On December 11, 2018, Walton County filed its long awaited, misguided attempt to erode private property rights in Walton County to the benefit of public use. In the 144 page complaint, Walton County seeks declaratory judgment affirming the existence of recreational customary use on 1,194 privately owned beachfront parcels in Walton County.
If left unchallenged, this means that the sandy beach portion of property would be subject to public use and property owners would have no right of exclusion. Walton County, as the plaintiff in this lawsuit, has the burden of proof to demonstrate that the public’s use of your private beachfront property has been ancient, reasonable, without interruption, and free from dispute.
Walton County must provide notice of the filing of the customary use claim by certified mail with a return receipt. The notice must allow the owner receiving the notice to intervene in the litigation proceeding within 45 days after receiving the notice. Owners wishing to protect their property rights must act promptly.