The Walton County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously on Nov. 3 to adopt a formal Notice of Intent to affirm the existence of recreational customary uses on beachfront property in Walton County, Florida.
The vote is to repeal H.B. 631, Possession of Real Property adopted in 2017, which prohibited beach goers to transverse, sit, or recreate on dry sand areas along beachfront private homes.
Customary Use Ordinances are local ordinances that recognize, regulate, and protect existing public beach access rights based on the legal doctrine of custom, or “customary use.” In Florida, as the Florida Supreme Court has recognized, customary use rights arise where the public’s use has been ancient, reasonable, without interruption, and free from dispute.
Compelling testimony from citizens in Walton County proved long term customary use of South Walton’s beaches. More than 12,000 notarized affidavits of use from locals and visitors was presented along with a lengthy historical presentation. Ann Tucker, chairwoman of the Muscogee Indian Nation presented testimony of many generations of use.
How this will play out, only time will tell.