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SoWal Staff

Serving the Community!
Staff member
Apr 14, 2006
3,348
390
South Walon, FL
SoWal.com
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
 

Kaydence

Beach Fanatic
Jan 19, 2017
1,553
710
Florida
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?
 

Teresa

SoWal Guide
Staff member
Nov 15, 2004
28,465
3,872
South Walton, FL
sowal.com
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

AR-304049405.jpg
 

gailforce

Beach Lover
Aug 29, 2015
122
102
54
Seacrest
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!
 

James Bentwood

Beach Fanatic
Feb 24, 2005
1,295
427
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!
It's an article... Read it.
 

L.C. Bane

Beach Fanatic
Aug 8, 2017
486
160
Santa Rosa Beach
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.
 

FactorFiction

Beach Fanatic
Feb 18, 2016
494
409
Just pointing out its written by someone else. No need to attack Teresa who generously provides the platform for you to show your ass.
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.
 
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