The Walton Democratic Women’s Club will host a meeting at the Coastal Branch Library on May 21, 2018 from 6-8 pm to discuss Walton County’s response to HB 631, the new law passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Governor Rick Scott that will end Walton County’s Customary Use Ordinance as of July 1, 2018. The Customary Use of the public to access the beaches of South Walton was recognized by the Board of County Commissioners when it passed the Customary Use Ordinance in 2016. Larry Jones, our County Administrator, who actually wrote his master’s thesis on Customary Use, and Sidney Noyes, our County Attorney, who is quite knowledgeable about this subject matter, will be available to instruct us and answer questions at this meeting.
The Walton County Board of Commissioners does have a way forward under this legislation, to go before a judge and get a ruling on whether the use of the beaches has been “ancient, reasonable, without interruption and free from dispute.”
The first step in this process is to have a public hearing by the Board of County Commissioners where local citizens will present evidence and testimony and documentation, i. e. photographs, etc, that says there has been ancient, uninterrupted, ordinary customary uses of all the of beaches in Walton County from time immemorial. The BCC can then file a Declaration of Recreational Customary use with the circuit court in Walton County.
If the citizens of this community wish to retain the public’s customary use of the beaches, It is imperative that they show up at this hearing, which likely happen in June, and give testimony and bring evidence to the fact of Customary Use.
It is important that the Board of County Commissioners acts on good, substantial evidence that will form a record in the court case, which will be important if there has to be an appeal from the local judge’s decision.
If you are interested in this very important subject, we urge you to bring anyone with you that is able and willing to contribute to the evidence of Customary Use.