LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (WFLA) — Lakewood Ranch business owners are fed up with unruly teens along Main Street. So now officials have set up a curfew.
The new policy says if teens are spotted after 6 pm without an adult, they’ve got to go.
Main Street at Lakewood Ranch is a popular hotspot in this growing community. It is filled with boutiques, restaurants, a mini golf course and a movie theater. And the place is swamped with visitors during their monthly ‘Music on Main’ events, but sometimes the crowds bring along problems.
“There’s not a whole lot of parental guidance with the young ones,” said Main Street business owner Renee Towns.
Over the past year, business owners have been complaining about groups of teens starting fights, using profanity or causing vandalism.
“They’re in groups and there are so many of them. When you go to leave the parking lot there are so many of them everywhere,” said Towns.
Now after 6pm, anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Violators will be asked to leave, or to wait until their parents arrive.
The move has left some parents livid.
“Not only is it not enforceable but having kids together in an environment like this where it’s actually healthy to have fun I think is great and if you have a few kids that do something, you can’t take it out on all of them,” said parent Ian Whittemore.
“What, do you want them to sit at home and play video games all day? You gotta get em outside so that’s my thought on it. I think it’s ridiculous,” Whittemore added.
Other business owners like Judy Oliver-Ellis are worried about the impact this will have here.
“I think it will make a difference with families wanting to come here maybe if they have children that age,” said Ellis.
Michael Barfield with the ACLU believes this is unconstitutional and ineffective.
“[Their] ability to enforce this ordinance is going to be very problematic, and allows for discriminatory and arbitrary enforcement,” said Barfield.
Officials and business owners ultimately hope this policy sends a message.
“There’s no parental guidance and that’s my issue- is having some type of parental guidance,” said Towns.
Officials stress this is not a ban. They say everyone is welcome and they will not be targeting teens. This new policy will be handled on a case by case basis. Teens and kids can still come to Main Street to play mini golf or the movies, but if they’re causing disruptions and they’re out alone, then it could be enforced.
Ultimately, officials say they are trying to urge parents to be more mindful of their children.
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