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Stone Cold J

Beach Lover
Jun 6, 2019
150
171
SRB
The fox is watching the hen house in Walton County!

Sara,

Thank you very much for your post and willingness to run for office. Here is another important question and one that has divided the community. Do you support the BCC position proposed in the 2016 Ordinance of removing property rights to legally deeded private property between the dune line and property line (some of which extended to the MWHL) which would permit unlimited tourists with unlimited equipment on private property against the will of the property owner and without judicial approval.

This has nothing to do with swimming, fishing, surfacing, walking the entire 26 miles of coastline, taking family pictures, etc since that is permitted by the State of Florida. My question is specifically about day camping (people, chairs, beach equipment) on deeded private property against the will of the property owner.
 
Jul 10, 2017
98
14
DeFuniak Springs
Hi Ty,
I tried to respond over the weekend but kept receiving errors when trying to log in to the website. Kurt had offered to change my name and I couldn’t get back in! ‍♀️

Your comment about this being the Wild West is spot on. The fox is watching the hen house in Walton County! If you aren’t on the Walton County Visioning Facebook page, I’d encourage you to join it and see some of the eye-opening videos that get posted there.

I believe our area is near emergency-status and the continuing development trends are the primary reason I am running, because of extreme concern for the future and negative impacts of everything you described if we don’t start making changes now. As I’ve said before, Walton County will always be my home and I want it to be taken care of and developed responsibly for future generations!

State-owned and preservation lands must be protected!!

Some of the issues you mentioned could be resolved by simply enforcing our existing code. Building any further and increasing density on an already stressed and inadequate infrastructure is just plain irresponsible. I would encourage some kind of moratorium until we can get a more clear plan for future infrastructure and better understanding of the impacts of existing and approved projects (sometimes approved 20 years out).

I would request that Code Enforcement be redirected from enforcing the sign and other non-major ordinances, and focus on development violations. I would also oversee the zoning variance meetings and ensure they do their jobs! I would also move the board to pursue and adopt a “heritage tree” or similar ordinance based on preserving habit of our native wildlife, birds, and owls. I’d push for public education and encourage owners to stop spraying damaging chemicals in their yards because that’s what encourages that awful algae that has taken over in lots of areas of our state.
I would not allow the developers to police themselves as they currently do, based on the current permit structure and enforcement process.

Below is a video from a BCC meeting in which the Zoning Board of Adjustments, the people who choose to allow or deny code variances were appointed by our commissioners. They had just reappointed them after they voted unanimously on allowing a 1,400’ seawall, when 150’ is the max, filling in wetlands, disturbance and construction in the coastal protection zone.
Walton itself just installed a storm drain that funnels untreated stormwater right into Choctawhatchee Bay. But as a homeowner I was required to build engineered storm water ponds. I just believe everyone should be held to the same standards.

The people who benefit from development donate to others campaigns, then later get appointed to the very board that keeps there developments (customers) in line!
I was nervous a bit, knowing I am speaking up against a well-oiled operation! If you like my message please let me know if you would be willing to sponsor a few yard signs, or just allow me to place a sign in your yard! You can also just share my message and encourage your friends to vote Aug 18!

Thanks,
Sarah


Hey Sarah,

Thank you for taking the time to post. I myself am a life long Walton County resident and have seen this county grow exponential over the last 20 years. Of course I miss the days of a 2 lane highway 98 and a lot more dirt roads in SoWal but I also understand that South Walton is a beautiful place and that people spend a lot of money to live/stay here.

I guess my question to you is if you become a commissioner what gives you the (ethical) right to put a moratorium on building when you said yourself you just built your forever home in Walton County. It just seems like to me everybody in South Walton is anti-development until it's time to build their house.

Also as far as protecting state owned and preserved land, has the county done anything to harm said land.

Thank you in advance for your responses.
 

soappedaler

Beach Fanatic
Feb 21, 2006
427
121
Walton County has made numerous attempts over the years to use State Park and Forest Land for "purposes other than which they were acquired." In 1992 when 15,000 acres was purchased by the State for Conservation and Recreation Walton County balked at having so much land off the tax rolls. County Commissioners and County attorney went to Governor Chiles and said "we want some of our land back". It was never County land to begin with. A six or so year long battle ensued where citizens had to fight the County to keep our State Park and Forest land. Walton County wanted over 3,000 acres, much of which they wanted to turn around and sell to developers. In Seagrove they wanted 180 + or - of Cassine Garden Natural trail area, this is Point Washington State Forest.
At another point in time Commissioners wanted about 80 acres of Grayton Beach State Park for Baseball fields.
Then the TDC wanted 10 acres South of 331 for a TDC welcome center that became known as the Taj Mahal the plans were so outrageous.
Several times the County or TDC has wanted State Park and Forest Land for roads and parking lots. The County currently is attempting to put roads through Point Washington State Forest and Deer Lake State Park, the Atkins Connector Road Study and the 30A Mobility Study being conducting by the Seaside Institute along with the Planning Department.
 

SarahMoss

Beach Crab
Feb 17, 2020
2
2
Miramar Beach
Hey Sarah,

Thank you for taking the time to post. I myself am a life long Walton County resident and have seen this county grow exponential over the last 20 years. Of course I miss the days of a 2 lane highway 98 and a lot more dirt roads in SoWal but I also understand that South Walton is a beautiful place and that people spend a lot of money to live/stay here.

I guess my question to you is if you become a commissioner what gives you the (ethical) right to put a moratorium on building when you said yourself you just built your forever home in Walton County. It just seems like to me everybody in South Walton is anti-development until it's time to build their house.

Also as far as protecting state owned and preserved land, has the county done anything to harm said land.

Thank you in advance for your responses.

My parents are in Glendale/ DeFuniak off hwy 192. :)

I’m glad you pointed that out; my developing, but being alarmed by the development of others. This is one of my motivators for running, after feeling as though I’ve trained my entire life for this job! I feel I would have the ethical right to request a moratorium based on public safety. There becomes a point that continuing to add to the population without regard to required facilities including safe streets, storm water, parks, restaurants and other population- supporting businesses, is just plain irresponsible and dangerous. How do I know this? Because I have walked the streets with zero sidewalks/ shoulders, dodging both vehicles and puddles. We are adding hundreds of nearby residents on top of these already dangerous conditions!

I don’t believe that landowners should ever be put in a position to experience a reduction in quality of life, safety, or financial loss due to actions upon neighboring properties. But if things continue the way they are we will as we will experience increased flooding and poorer water quality. Our land values will go down with the continued pollution of our beach and bay. Accelerating this process is the continued filling of wetlands and reduction of canopy trees that absorb hundreds of gallons of water daily before releasing it back into the atmosphere via their leaves, as well as serving home to our native birds and wildlife, and providing much needed shade.

Alternatively, we could just cut it all down, pave it, and funnel all water into the Bay, which if we continue, would probably start looking like green-algae Southern Florida, based on what I see in the standing water on our streets.

We actually lived in an HOA here in Miramar and couldn’t get anyone to drain our street; including the HOA, Walton County, even DEP. It took 18 months to get something done and even then the result was expensive (imo), and not forward-looking. The professional HOA team hired a professional to install the drainage but he used no underlayment so within a few months weeds began to grow through. A landscaper was then hired who sprayed the weeds with some type of herbicide; polluting our stormwater system!

Shortly after we built a much smaller, super-efficient, and higher-elevated, ICF hurricane home by O’Shea, thanks to the recommendation on this website!!! It was a fun and educational process, complimenting my early-years exposure to geo-tech reporting when my parent’s had sold some of their lands. The stormwater permit for our home required all these fancy calculations and we had stay under certain pervious percentage as well as put ponds in so that our post-construction runoff was less then pre-construction. Our system is designed with gutters that feed into the pond which holds water up to a certain flood level, then there’s an overflow where the top water flows from our pond to the public storm system (aka Choctawhatchee Bay). This is important because most of the water volume never leaves our property, it percolates through the soil on our land within 3 days or so. By going through the soil it helps the impurities from fertilizers, herbicides, car washes, etc from polluting the water. Wetlands are considered “the kidneys” of the earth for this reason. We need wetlands, we need areas where water can filtrate. The very top of the water carries the least pollutants which is why it must overflow into State waters, not drain from the bottom.

Walton County acknowledged 16 years ago that the developer built my neighborhood without an engineered stormwater plan, and 16 years later they still haven’t had one, and it took over a year to get a drain cleaned! Why are developers allowed to circumvent the rules? If the Moss family can hire a stormwater engineer and properly treat our water, I think developers can too!

Fast forward some months and I've witnessed even worse outside my neighborhood in Miramar Beach:

-The vegetation at the Bayfront Haugen Park poisoned by herbicides (polluting our water). -I’ve seen properties on which wetlands once existed, be built on (magically NO wetlands)!
-Walton County sign off on a home w/ stormwater plan that was not complete and completely flooded the neighbors.
-Witnessed a drain get installed by WC Public Works causing 100% untreated stormwater to flow into the Choctawhatchee Bay, w/o an NPDES permit which is in violation of the Federal Clean Water Act! NPDES Permit Basics | US EPA
-Entire neighborhoods of mega-home “multi family” rental homes being built as “single family”, avoiding impact fees and over-taxing our already poor infrastructure.
-High density Miramar Beach South not only has no sidewalks, but not even shoulders to walk on in some areas, causing pedestrians to share the road with vehicles. This is downright dangerous, and a threat to public safety!
-Nearby a newer, large complex on Driftwood, neighbors use sandbags to try to re-direct flood waters. – Additional wetland and major / minor development issues will be posted as another post.
-Large acreage rezoned from residential preservation to commercial (AKA pavement), in already flood-sensitive 4 mile point area.
-Limited interconnectivity- our town was not built on a grid. Traffic gets backed up, and residents are forced into longer commutes. One single telephone pole falls, and entire communities would be cut off.
-Much new development is sleeping quarters, but we do not have enough restaurants to feed these people! We need more responsible, planned expansion and not just tourist sleeping quarters. In fact, the real estate market shows there is no shortage of the type of housing they are building!

And the development methods and growth rates are not sustainable, our bubble will burst.

New commercial developments are being allowed to “top off” to our local FL DOT ponds, but the ponds are already at a high level. I meant to get a photo the other day. Why should we allow developments to tie in-to the DOT stormwater system, when they could be made to build retention ponds like the rest of us? Why can’t these people hold onto their water like single family homes, like we were made to do?

I just want to live in a nice place, and not have others damage or negatively affect me or my enjoyment. If development can’t be done without detrimentally affecting others, than I don’t think it should be done is all. I didn’t even realize a moratorium was even possible until learning about other cities in FL doing them.

I would also be interested in public feedback of a rule to require that home-size not exceed 50% of the lot size. I think it helps keep property values to not make them too small, or disproportionate like we currently see. I’m attaching a few pics around Miramar Beach.

Any one else share these concerns and want to sit back and just watch it continue? I hope not!

Sarah

“The Clean Water Act prohibits anybody from discharging "pollutants" through a "point source" into a "water of the United States" unless they have an NPDES permit. The permit will contain limits on what you can discharge, monitoring and reporting requirements, and other provisions to ensure that the discharge does not hurt water quality or people's health. In essence, the permit translates general requirements of the Clean Water Act into specific provisions tailored to the operations of each person discharging pollutants.”
About NPDES | US EPA
 

Ty Webb

Beach Lover
Jan 19, 2020
146
27
Miramar Beach
Hey Sarah,


Also as far as protecting state owned and preserved land, has the county done anything to harm said land.

Thank you in advance for your responses.

soappedaler, who has been in the fight for decades to protect our beautiful county, detailed how WC has ATTEMPTED to "harm said land".

BCC just recently voted to spend right at $600,000 for a "study" to cut a road through state forest lands, including Deer Lake State Park. Thankfully, the state has some say so in that decision. Plus, there are plenty of folks now in the south end that will fight that road tooth and nail.
 

fletch7245

Beach Lover
Jun 19, 2012
67
51
Hi Sarah,

I am a conservative, technically a Constitutionalist. And I am also passionate about preservation, especially here in Walton County. Yes, folks, conservatives can care as deeply about our forests, beaches, springs, as a liberal. :)

Our county, controlled mainly by commissioners who are all from north of Choctawhatchee Bay look at SoWal completely different than the residents of SoWal. Their lack of seizing the opportunity to build up opportunities in Freeport, Defuniak leaves them to focus on allowing more and more development in SoWal, with no thought or action in improving the necessary infrastructure.

Please share your position and what you would do to correct once elected:

  • Very high density building allowed and increasing
  • Complete clear cutting of lots with zero natural vegetation remaining.
  • Setbacks, buffer zones virtually ignored and seldom corrected. It's the wild West here.
  • Protecting our state forests from encroachment, and slicing and dicing by the county powers and their attorneys.
  • SLOWING DOWN the development to allow for infrastructure to catch up
  • Implementing required beautification of property in order to be granted development orders. (Look at Hilton Head Island, Fairhope for ideas)
We can, as a county, require these builders and developers to "Keep SoWal Beautiful". It will require courage, fortitude.
Ty has nailed it!
 
Jul 10, 2017
98
14
DeFuniak Springs
soappedaler, who has been in the fight for decades to protect our beautiful county, detailed how WC has ATTEMPTED to "harm said land".

BCC just recently voted to spend right at $600,000 for a "study" to cut a road through state forest lands, including Deer Lake State Park. Thankfully, the state has some say so in that decision. Plus, there are plenty of folks now in the south end that will fight that road tooth and nail.

Its a bit of a thin line we walk because I am for conservation but I think most will agree 30A desperately needs cut through road between 395 and S Watersound Parkway.
 

James Bentwood

Beach Fanatic
Feb 24, 2005
1,283
421
Its a bit of a thin line we walk because I am for conservation but I think most will agree 30A desperately needs cut through road between 395 and S Watersound Parkway.
It is not necessary. A convenience only. Not worth destroying habitat or slicing it up which is forever harm. Shaving time off our drive is not worth it. But the issue is larger than the number of vehicles or drive times. It is about preserving lands that we need as a society. Staying off the slippery slope.
 

Bob Wells

Beach Fanatic
Jul 25, 2008
3,199
1,180
When minutes count, a road through the forest may be the difference between survival or death.
 

soappedaler

Beach Fanatic
Feb 21, 2006
427
121
A road through Deer Lake State Park/Point Washington State Forest will not save time. Once St. Joe Arvida starts funneling the Watersound North people to 30A it will be gridlock in Seagrove Seacrest. Don't think for one minute Walton County cares about public safety , it's all about what the developers want. They want the road to increase the value of their property north of 98 in both Walton and Bay County.
 
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