Walton County Customary Use: Where do we go from here?

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by SoWal Staff, Apr 6, 2018.

  1. SoWal Staff

    SoWal Staff Serving the Community! Staff Member

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    Walton County Customary Use: Where do we go from here?

    For the first time in history, Florida's legislative and executive branches have weighed in on the issue of customary use and how it may, or may not, apply to Florida beaches. As the legislature passed and the governor signed HB 631, a clear path was created to determine if the public has the right to recreationally use Florida beaches.

    While this legislation voids the current Customary Use Ordinance in Walton County, as of July 1, 2018, it provides Walton, and all other Florida Counties, a legislatively approved and endorsed mechanism to advance a Customary Use claim through the judicial system.

    The Walton County Board of County Commissioners has instructed staff to begin the process laid out in the legislation to substantiate a customary use claim. This will include the gathering of evidence and a public hearing to determine if such a claim is supported by substantial evidence and testimony. If so, the next step would be to present the testimony and evidence to a Judge through the appropriate legal process. If the Judge agrees with the County, the Customary Use Ordinance will be validated and take effect. If the Judge disagrees, the ordinance will be null and void.

    The following steps are clearly spelled in the legislation in order for the County to pass and affirm a claim of customary use:

    The County would schedule a public hearing to consider evidence and testimony supporting a finding of customary use of Walton County beaches. Notice of this meeting must be sent via certified mail to the owner of each parcel of property subject to customary use consideration and contain all statutory requirements. Such mailing shall be no later than 30 days prior to the public hearing.

    At the public hearing, evidence will be presented and testimony taken supporting or not supporting the requirements of sustaining a customary use claim. If the Board of County Commissioners finds that there is sufficient, substantial testimony and evidence to support such a finding they may adopt a formal notice of intent to affirm the existence of recreational customary us on Walton County beaches.

    Upon the adoption of a notice of intent, the Board of County Commissioners must file a Complaint for Declaration of Recreational Customary Use with the circuit court in Walton County within 60 days.

    Notice of the filing must be provided by the county to the owner of each parcel of property subject to the complaint. This notice will provide a 45 day window for the noticed property owner to intervene in the proceeding if they so choose.

    Once the above process is completed it will become the responsibility of the court, through the appropriate judicial proceedings, to determine whether Walton County's evidence meets the required burden of proof and demonstrates that recreational customary use exists on the parcels of property listed in the formal notice of intent.

    While this process may be lengthy and cumbersome, it provides the County with the opportunity to "have its day in court", as it presents all evidence and testimony in the appropriate proceeding, anticipating a favorable ruling which will solidify the public's right to use all the beaches of Walton County for recreational purposes.

    At your service,

    Louis E. Svehla
    Public Information Manager
    Walton Board of County Commissioners
    76 North 6th Street
    DeFuniak Springs, FL 32435
    Phone: 850-892-8155 x1010
    Cell: 850-333-6404
    Email: svelouis@co.walton.fl.us
     
  2. Kaydence

    Kaydence Beach Fanatic

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    If the public has the right to "use all the beaches" why then does the county give 50% to private business (vendors) for their exclusionary use at NO CHARGE?
     
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  3. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    Beach access ordinances are based on a legal principle called "customary use," defined as the traditional use of dry beach sand for public recreation, even on private property.

    The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that if a private property owner tries to put up a fence or calls police to eject beachgoers who have been using the beach for years, the local government can cite "customary use" to allow the public to remain — but only if such use has been "ancient, reasonable, without interruption and free from dispute."

    Ordinances enacted by two of the three counties, St. Johns and Volusia counties, were left standing by wording in the new law.

    The only beach access ordinance being abolished is the one passed last year in the Panhandle’s Walton County, where the list of beach homeowners includes such well-known names as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and ex-White House adviser Karl Rove. Last year when a similar bill was proposed in the Legislature but failed, it was nicknamed "the Huckabee amendment."

    more...
    Tampa Bay Times | Apr 4 2018

    [​IMG]
     
  4. gailforce

    gailforce Beach Lover

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    The County Commision did not follow the law already in place. So, please don’t unjustly accuse someone, unless you have proof . Huckabee was only involved in the shot down compromises by the County Commussion, nothing else. Karl Rove’s input? Seriously? Did Elvis tell you that? Want to put a big name on this? Here it is...The Constitution!
     
  5. James Bentwood

    James Bentwood Beach Fanatic

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    It's an article... Read it.
     
  6. L.C. Bane

    L.C. Bane Beach Comber

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    None of this nonsense affects my day to day life, whatsoever. If I go to the beach, I'm not going to take the time to give a s**t about any of this. I'm just going to the beach.

    If a kid runs through my non-beachfront yard, I ain't callin' the cops. If someone is strolling by and sits and enjoys my grass and trees I aint whippin' out my survey. WTF kind of world are we living in now. Get an effing grip.
     
  7. gailforce

    gailforce Beach Lover

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    Oh! An article! That’s proof.
     
  8. CartoonMark

    CartoonMark Beach Lover

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  9. James Bentwood

    James Bentwood Beach Fanatic

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    Just pointing out its written by someone else. No need to attack Teresa who generously provides the platform for you to show your ass.
     
  10. FactorFiction

    FactorFiction Beach Fanatic

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    For what it's worth, I didn't take the comment by gailforce as an attack on Teresa, but rather a comment about the insinuations in the article. There have been a LOT of articles with inaccurate information and very few that have really explained the legislation without a slant or misinformation. Maybe Gov. Huckabee or Karl Rove are that powerful to persuade the entire FL legislature to overwhelmingly support a bill, but that would surprise me. In any case, customary use is going to be pursued by Walton County and they seem to have a relatively positive take on getting this done and having it stick.
     
  11. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    The article provides an overview of what has happened and where we are now. For those interested. It doesn't tell you what you should think or not think about the issue. If anything it helps me to get a better idea of the issues on all sides. That is the intent of this thread as well. I am interested in understanding each side of this difficult issue. And what may come next... It is an issue that will effect the entire community. Not just second home property owners or visitors. Locals have an interest as well.

    If you have another article that represents your views better than this one by all means post it in response. Sharing thoughtful pieces of editorial and opinion pieces is always helpful. Posting your own opinions in a thoughtful way is also important. I am interested in hearing about your views and I know many others are as well.

    This article is one of several recently published in Florida. It is one piece of information.
     
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  12. BlueMtnBeachVagrant

    BlueMtnBeachVagrant Beach Fanatic

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    I've read this at least three times and and have been trying to fill in the blanks. Can you please help me out?
     
  13. elgordoboy

    elgordoboy Beach Fanatic

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    Nah, the first quoted poster above was going after Teresa demanding to know “if Elvis told YOU that?” This makes it difficult to take that particular individuals opinion seriously when they are either too incompetent to employ reading comprehension. And laughably we are expected by that same poster to credit his or her ability to interpret the legal document that is The Constitution when he or she cannot reliably interpret a clearly worded post on a forum.
    But your attempt at diplomacy is appreciated, seriously.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2018
  14. bob bob

    bob bob Beach Lover

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    SNAP!
     
  15. boomerang

    boomerang Beach Comber

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    Fact or Fiction (ie Huckabee) - please deny that you had any part in this legislation.

    If you did - then you are Governor of the elite 900 Walton Gulf front owners - not of the people.
     
  16. FactorFiction

    FactorFiction Beach Fanatic

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    I didn't. I just didn't interpret the post as you did because Teresa's post was just the words directly from an article. That said, if the comments were directed at Teresa and not just sarcasm toward the author of the article, then the sarcasm was misplaced.
     
  17. FactorFiction

    FactorFiction Beach Fanatic

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    I'm just basing this on what was said in the official release about the County pursuing customary use. Do I believe that they have factual evidence for the entire county shoreline? Seems doubtful, but I suppose that the outcome depends largely on how the court/judge ends up interpreting ancient, reasonable, uninterrupted, and without dispute. None of those terms are clearly defined at this point. There may end up being lawsuits over definitions. Seems like there is a better way to bringing peace to the beach than lawsuits, name calling, and all the assorted ways that people are expressing their disagreement and frustration with the "other side".
     
  18. boomerang

    boomerang Beach Comber

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    I do not understand your reply

    Did you promote the bill that banned customary use on Walton County beaches???
     
  19. Riddielee

    Riddielee Beach Crab

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    The old song, “Sign, Signs, every where a sign” keeps running through my head...also Joni Mitchell’s “ They Paved Paradise & put up a parking lot”
    Ok I am dating myself but good grief if the beach is taken away what do we have? Thank Goodness we have the dedicated State forests and parks or iT really would be a paradise lost.....
     
  20. FloridaBeachBum

    FloridaBeachBum Beach Lover

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    I'm dating myself as well. The old School House Rock - The Constitution song, keeps running through my head. Especially the 5th Amendment part.

    Good grief if the rights protected by the Constitution are taken away what do we have? It really would be Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness lost. What's custom will be declared or litigated next?
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018

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