On November 3, Walton County Commissioners held another public meeting on the customary use issue. This meeting was necessary because county officials failed to properly notice every property owner prior to the previous public hearing.
During the meeting, many individuals shared comments regarding their thoughts about the customary use issue that threatens the property rights of more than one thousand property owners. In addition to those who spoke in favor of the plan, a number of citizens and attorneys who represent beachfront property owners also spoke.
The attorneys – who represent more than 200 property owners in this legal challenge – provided well-reasoned arguments regarding why this proposal is misguided. Additionally, they also highlighted the fact that the property lines for beachfront parcels have extended to the mean high-water line for more than a century, and clearly demonstrate deeded ownership by beachfront owners. Even the County’s “expert” admitted that the dry sand portion of parcels in Walton county were and are deeded to Gulf front owners. Many customary use supporters were surprised by this admission that factually contradicted the false narrative perpetrated by customary use advocates, who deliberately misled the public about deeded ownership.
At the end of the meeting, after six hours of hearing, there was no discussion among the commissioners. They voted unanimously to “affirm the existence of recreational customary uses” that threaten the private property rights of more than one thousand beachfront property owners in Walton County.
Put simply, customary use is the County’s shortsighted attempt to provide access to privately owned gulf-front beach for the use of the public and tourists. It would cause private property to be subject to public “customary use,” meaning the dry sandy beach of people’s private property would be open to the public – even though owners still pay taxes on their entire parcel.
The bottom line is that, with this new action, every Gulf-front property owner in Walton County is on notice that a fundamental property right will be taken away. If the County’s action is successful, property owners would lose the right of exclusion. The County’s action would effectively sanctify trespassing.
That’s why it is critically important for property owners to seek legal counsel immediately.
The county will soon send letters to each property owner explaining the intent to forever take each individual’s rights to the land that they own. An experienced attorney, licensed to practice in Florida, will help property owners understand the information, learn about the various options, and take action before the deadline.
We encourage every property owner to join the hundreds of other individuals who have already engaged legal counsel – before it’s too late.
You can watch a recording of the hearing here: