Pinal County is prosecuting restaurant owner Dale Bell for letting his customers dance under the stars. After the longest zoning hearing in the County's history, the hearing officer found Dale liable for running an illegal dance hall because he allows or permits dancing outside of a completely enclosed structure at his steakhouse, San Tan Flat.
Dale spent three years jumping through the County's permitting hoops before realizing his dream. After San Tan Flats opening in 2005, Dale thought he was finished dealing with County bureaucracy. But, the County's obsession with dancing proved him wrong.
San Tan Flat provides live country music outdoors, which occasionally inspires people to dance. Apparently swaying to music is fine, but if someone moves their feet they cross the line because dancing outdoors is against the law in Pinal County and the County expects Dale to act as the dance police.
The Constitution protects Dales right to earn an honest living free from unreasonable government regulation. What could be more unreasonable than saying his customers can dance inside, but not outside?
Jennifer M. Perkins is an attorney at the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter and will lead the litigation team against Pinal County.