In a victory for beachfront property owners, a number of whom are represented by Hopping Green & Sams attorney Kent Safriet, the Walton County Board of Commissioners (Board) voted on March 8, 2016 to table the Hurricane Storm Damage Reduction Project—the proposed 18.8 mile beach renourishment project. This comes as yet another blow to the beach renourishment project after the federal court in Pensacola agreed with beachfront property owners on October 6, 2015, and declared that the beach renourishment project would violate Walton County’s “White Sand Protection Restrictions.” The previous news release and court order can be accessed here.
The Board’s vote to table the project came after the county attorney’s presentation of the results of sending out easement requests to beachfront property owners seeking an easement for the county and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to place sand from a borrow area on the beachfront owners’ private properties. The county attorney reported to the Board that 1037 requests for easements were sent to beachfront property owners, of which 511 were returned. Thus, 973 or 94% of beachfront property owners expressly refused to grant an easement or did not respond to the county’s request for an easement. The county attorney reported that based on the easement results, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers determined that the beach renourishment project is no longer viable. The staff recommendation to the Board was to table the project, which the Board voted to do. The video of the presentation and Board vote is available here.
For additional information, contact Kent Safriet.