The Real Deal Miami

Quiet county approval of monkey farms ruled legal

Hendry County's approval of two monkey farms required no advance notice or public hearing

July 16, 2016 04:00PM

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Makaque monkeys, also known as "snow monkeys"

Macaque monkeys, also known as “snow monkeys”

A circuit judge ruled that Hendry County acted legally in approving two monkey farms without posting a public notice of its intent, or holding a public meeting, in advance.

Operators of the two farms house and raise thousands of macaque monkeys, or “snow monkeys,” and neighbors of one of the farms along the Hendry-Lee County order sued Hendry County.

The suit alleged the county’s failure to provide public notice or to hold a public hearing about the monkey farms in advance of their approval violated Florida’s Sunshine Law.

But Circuit Judge James Sloan ruled the county did not violate the state law.

Hendry County successfully argued in court that the land for the monkey farms is zoned for agricultural use, so staff approval was sufficient, and the county had no obligation to hold a public hearing on the monkey farms or to issue a public notice about them.

The county in south-central Florida also contended that any species is permissible at the agriculturally zoned locations of the monkey farms.

Attorneys with the nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund represented the three plaintiffs in the suit against Hendry County.

One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Chris Berry, told the Naples Daily News that “for many reasons, these large biomedical facilities are very controversial … It’s extremely troubling that Hendry County didn’t think its residents were entitled to a voice.” [Naples Daily News] — Mike Seemuth