Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nude Dude Ranch Should Challenge County's Illegal Restrictions

So Norm, you have not blogged in a couple of days, the longest you have ever gone, friends note.

"What did you do, win the lotto," they ask.

"I only wish," I reply, because if I did, then I too could cause a national brouhaha by opening up a nude dude ranch. No, really, it is happening. And in Florida, of course. Right in Brooksville on the West Coast.

A Tim Clements and David Jennings recently opened up their 10-acre horse farm as a dude ranch and started advertising the clothing-optional facility as a bed-and-breakfast with available RV spaces. All those uses require county permission, but the owners got none. Now they’re in trouble with the neighbors and the county. Those damn things called zoning laws.

The dude opening up the dude ranch says he wanted to return to the farm life he grew up in. I can feel for him. I used to love going to dude ranches in the Catskill Mountains when I was a kid growing up in the country before the family settled in more urban environs.

These owners say the farm is secluded enough to be in the buff. And the pictures at their web site show it to be spectacular, beautiful, rural, and inviting. I have a friend from the Florida Gay Rodeo that says it is an awesom retreat. But Hernando County has a nudity ban, and these guys need some good first amendment lawyers to, hmm, brief their case. Clements says they'll try to get the necessary paperwork, but if they can't get approval he'll close the CJ Ranch again to all but friends. I don't know. I expect them to be on Letterman by next week.

Though their Web site says clothing is optional, there is a caveat: Everyone ``must wear pants and boots to ride the horses." After all, they don't want to get sued or anything. There are all sorts of liability issues for going, well, bareback.

Nude Dude Ranch Website

Full story from Tampa Bay

These guys should argue a legal claim that naturists have legal rights, and a county cannot create an absolute zoning ban barring nudity anywhere and everywhere within its borders. Just as homeless populations have effectively argued in court they have standing, so to do naturists and nudists who have historically established a perfectly legitimate and respectable lifestyle. I remember when I first came to Florida and did my legal radio show, I was invited out to the Seminole Health Club in Davie to judge their annual talent contest. It was the first real legal experience I had with nudists. But then came those early years in the 1980's where we had to fight to protect the rights of naturists on Haulover Beach in Miami. This is a legitimate and legal class of decent and honorable people whose rights should be protected and preserved.

These guys should not run from the law. They should challenge it. They have a viable and lawful claim. They need to understand that if the county has passed a law rendering any nudity illegal they have a legal right to say the ban is unconstitutional and may not stand up in court.

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