Wednesday, August 27, 2014

For Once, Town Does NOT Crack Down On Lemonade Stand

T.J. Guerrero sells lemonade in Dunedin, Florida,
which has opted not to crack down on him. Photo
by Jim  Damaske, Tampa Bay Times.  
I've seen a lot of weird news about crackdowns on lemonade stands and such in recent years, as towns decide that lemonade stands are apparently criminal enterprises that will destroy their communities. Or something.  

So I have to congratulate the community of Dunedin, Florida, for letting a kid named T.J. Guerrero, 12, sell his lemonade in peace, despite vigorous and persistent objections from a grumpy, mean neighbor, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The Times says this about the cranky neighbor:

"Doug Wilkey contends that the Palm Harbor Middle School student's year round operation is an 'illegal business' that causes excessive traffic, noise, trash, illegal parking and other probles that reduce his property values.

'Please help me regain my quiet home and neighborhood,' Wilkey, 61, wrote.

So far, Dunedin, Florida town officials have not done as Wilkey has wished, probably figuring it's just a lemonade stand, and also thinking about the wave of negative publicity if they shut the kid down.

"'We're not inthe business of trying to regulate kids like that; nor do we want to do any code enforcement like that,' said Dunedin planning and development director Greg Rice. 'We are not out there trying to put lemonade stands out of business.'"

Which is a nice switch. Because there does seem to have been a nationwide crackdown on lemonade stands by municipalities in the last several years. As far back as 2011, Forbes magazine had a rundown of the various kids' lemonade stands shut down by mean old zoning and code officials. 

The Forbes article called the shut downs "inexplicable" and I agree. It seems many of the code enforcement actions seemed to be an effort by cash strapped cities to collect fees and fines by whatever means and amounts necessary.

Hence the fines and bills that amounted to as much as $500 for parents of kids who tried to sell lemonade.

There's even a Lemonade Freedom web site, fighting back against police and municipal efforts to rid their communities of the "scourge" of lemonade stands. The tag line on the Web site is "Because selling lemonade is not a crime."

So it's refreshing to say the least that Dunedin, Florida is resisting calls to shut down one lowly lemonade stand in the town.

Still, Wilkey is persistent. He's tried saying the lemonade stand attracts misbehaving kids who throw rocks and debris and spew profanity, that they might kill somebody selling contaminated lemonade, and that his neighborhood is not zoned for business.

But authories have not found evidence of lemonade stand misdeeds. A sheriff deputy has been out a couple times. He polled other neighbors, who all said they were fine with the lemonade stand. So at last report, you can still get your lemonade from T.J. Guerrero in Dunedin, Forida.

The lemonade stand might disappear in a couple years, though, when Guerrero will turn 14. At that point, he says, he'll be old enough to work as a bagger at a nearby supermarket, which might be more lucrative for him.

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