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Archive for Saturday, July 17, 2004

Nudist camp suing Shawnee County over zoning

July 17, 2004

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— A nudist camp near Topeka is suing Shawnee County over zoning ordinances that have forced the facility to shut down.

Lake Edun Foundation Inc., which is operated by Webb and Julie Garlinghouse of Topeka, contends in a suit filed July 2 that conditional-use permits previously obtained from the county were not legally necessary.

The nudist camp's land is zoned agricultural, and county officials don't agree with Webb Garlinghouse's contention that the facility is centered on harvesting fish and growing trees and native grasses.

Lake Edun charges an admission fee and sells concessions to customers, which county officials said was not allowed in an area zoned as agricultural without a special permit.

A conditional-use permit that allowed the foundation to operate Lake Edun, which is the word "nude" backward, expired on Dec. 31.

The "clothing-optional" recreational facility is in a wooded area surrounding a lake in southwest Shawnee County. On its Web site, the Lake Edun Foundation bills itself as "an educational foundation devoted to promoting naturist values and lifestyles to the general public."

"If you decide you agree that clothing is a much overrated and expensive commodity and want to embrace clothing-free living, send us a response," the Web site suggests.

It's a concept that Shawnee County commissioners evidently haven't embraced.

Lake Edun and the county have been battling over zoning ordinances since 1998, and in February 2000, the Kansas House briefly considered a bill that would have shut down nudist camps located within five miles of a residential area. That discussion was prompted mainly by concerns about Lake Edun.

In July 2000, a Shawnee County judge denied a county petition that sought to block recreational activities at Lake Edun before a big weekend event dubbed "Return to Edun." But the judge suggested the county should focus on enforcing its zoning ordinances instead of seeking the temporary injunction.

A year earlier, the Shawnee County District Court agreed with the county Board of Zoning Appeals that the camp was operating in violation of zoning ordinances.

In January 2001, the County Commission granted the camp a conditional-use permit, which has expired.

Commissioner Marice Kane, whose district includes Lake Edun, said Thursday she had received phone calls from people who claim the camp is still operating and causing problems. But County Atty. Rich Eckert said no such claims have been documented this year.

Court documents show the Garlinghouses lease about three acres of property they own to the Lake Edun Foundation.

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