Bikers rev up for racy Hernando rodeo

BROOKSVILLE — Jimmy Batten's planned Brooksville Old School Biker Rodeo will go on as planned late next month, but the county will be monitoring the racy event to see if participants comply with county rules.

Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously agreed to grant Batten the permit he needed for his third such biker rodeo, a sequel to the last "Party in the Pasture'' touted as being all about "beer, t--s and biker shenanigans.''

And while pictures showing nudity and video clips from the "screaming orgasm'' contest from the last event were entered into evidence for commissioners to consider on Tuesday, there were more complaints by neighbors about the noise of motorcycles, the annoyance of drunken bikers and piles of trash in the neighborhood than about too much exposed skin.

Batten and his attorney Robert Morris described the event as a way that Batten is giving back to veterans by raising money for their causes. They noted that his 40 acres north of Soult Road are isolated, only adults attend the events and that they would work with the county to settle any issues.

"Nothing would be visible,'' from off the property, Morris said.

The county approved a permit for the first biker rodeo but when Batten sought a second earlier this year, the county said a recurring event needed a different kind of review.

Batten went ahead with the second rodeo in the spring without a permit, and zoning administrator Gary Fisher told commissioners that a number of the conditions agreed upon by Batten earlier were violated.

Evidence of those violations were played across the Web site for Scooter Goods, a regional motorcycle magazine. Assistant County Attorney Kent Weissinger provided that content to commissioners via a disk on Tuesday since some of the more objectionable photos had been removed since the commission agenda was released last week.

He told commissioners the material was "somewhat graphic'' and yet, "they do need to be part of the record.''

Neighbors said they have stayed in their homes during the past events. "This is not a good land use decision,'' said neighbor Judy Whitehead, who said 1,500 campers on the property didn't fit the area.

She also pointed out that Batten has said he isn't responsible for what the bikers do and she showed a list of calls for service to law enforcement, noting that gunfire was heard at a recent event. Whitehead brought petitions from the neighbors and urged a vote against the event. "It's noisy. It's loud and they don't have a good track record,'' she said.

Others asked for better policing of the event and enforcement of the community's standards.

Sal Barone, commandant for the Marine Corps League, urged commissioners to allow the event to continue to provide for the many financial needs of veterans. As for the nature of some of the activity on site, "anyone who does not want to see it will not have to be confronted by it,'' he said.

Other bikers and veterans told commissioners to pay attention to their own banners posted around the room supporting local veterans and their sacrifices for freedom.

"I'm hearing a lot … less about conga lines and pole dancers and more about noise abatement and traffic control,'' said Commissioner Dave Russell.

Commissioner Jeff Stabins pushed for Batten to agree to using off-duty deputies to provide both traffic assistance and interior security but Batten said he had his own private security, and attorney Morris said on-sight deputies, off-duty or not, would be too much like "big brother.''

Batten agreed to a variety of conditions, including security on-site, off-duty deputies off site, and to comply with all county codes and ordinances. That presumably would include the county's prohibition on public nudity, although that specific issue never came up during the commission meeting.

Batten agreed to comply with county ordinances including the anti-nudity ordinance, Weissinger said. And he agreed to having security on-site. "If someone wants to make a complaint, then it's up to law enforcement,'' he said.

Commissioner Rose Rocco said she understood Batten was trying to help veterans, but she saw the events planned as "a little bit promiscuous'' and was concerned that Batten could be held responsible if any of his bikers got drunk and hurt someone.

Commissioner Diane Rowden said she'd seen more obscenity on Wall Street lately but still wanted to find a way to protect neighbors. She suggested that the commission get a report card after the next planned rodeo and use that to help decide whether future events are permitted.

Other commissioners agreed.

The issue was going to fall back on that review to be sure problems don't crop up again, Russell said. "We want you to be good neighbors,'' he said.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Overheard

"It's noisy. It's loud and they don't have a good track record."

Judy Whitehead, a neighbor

"I'm hearing a lot … less about conga lines and pole dancers and more about noise abatement and traffic control.''

Dave Russell, county commissioner

"If someone wants to make a complaint, then it's up to law enforcement.''

Jimmy Batten, who organizes the Old School Biker Rodeo

Bikers rev up for racy Hernando rodeo 09/23/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 29, 2008 5:18pm]

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