Judges OK Dealer's Airstream Ranch Display
Airstream Ranch, a row of partially-buried travel trailers that is a favorite spectacle among highway sightseers, does not violate Hillsborough County, Fla., codes, a three-judge panel has ruled, according to the Tampa Tribune.
The panel last week overturned a Hillsborough County Code Enforcement Board determination that the trailers constituted junk and off-site advertising for the adjacent Bates RV dealership at Interstate 4 and McIntosh Road.
Assistant County Attorney Nancy Y. Takemori, who is handling the case, said she was reviewing the judges' order and had not decided if she will suggest an appeal.
Lawyer Luke Lirot, who represents Airstream Ranch owner Frank Bates, said he was elated at the decision by three Hillsborough circuit court judges.
Bates said he was "tickled to death" about the victory.
"It's not every day that you can fight city hall, so to speak, and win," he said.
Bates, who also owns Bates RV, contends the two-year-old display is art. He said it has been featured in calendars, travel magazines and music videos.
Nearby residents have complained of motorists crowding their neighborhood while using Castlewood Road to get a better look at the creation.
The judges found there was no "competent, substantial evidence" to support the 2008 code enforcement board's findings that the display either was junk or any type of nuisance, that it was "open outside storage," or that it was an improper "off-site sign" advertising Bates RV.
Lirot said his client feels the decision celebrates the freedom of the open road.
The Airstreams emulate the more famous Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.
The code enforcement board had ordered the removal of the RVs and levied a fine.
Seven full-sized Airstream trailers and one smaller trailer make up Airstream Ranch. Bates said he may add lighting, possibly with colored lights, and a walkway made of recycled tires now that he's won the appeal.