Thursday, December 30, 2010

Update on term Registered Voter (Beach Permits)

I finally received an answer from questions I asked the County Attorney concerning some "added" wording to the proposed Driving on the Beach ordinance on December 15th.

Here were my questions:

When I asked you on Tues. Night, if the addition of the wording Registered Voter to the proposed Ordinance meant that a register voter who did not own any Walton County property could apply for a permit, you replied yes. I questioned the fairness of this because other groups are being required to be property owners. At the time, I didn't have a copy of the latest updated document, I only had the copy that I had printed off the web and it was missing the addition of the words Registered Voter. Today I got a full copy of the updated document so I could see the actual wording and the placement of the words Registered Voter. The section that the wording was added to, they would have to abide by the following:

The Actual Wording of the Updated Ordinance
Walton County registered voters, or real property owners, who are residents of Walton County, and immediate family members residing with the property owners in Walton County may obtain a permit for the use of a properly registered and authorized vehicle along the designated limited access areas on the beaches of Walton County, if the following criteria are met, in addition to any other requirements contained in this Code:

a. The person applying for the permit must have had a permit as of the effective date of this ordinance and for the year preceding the date of application. Each parcel of property shall only be entitled to one vehicle permit and one boat trailer permit each year.

b. The real property shall have constructed on it a habitable residence.

bc. The ad-valorem taxes for the real property shall not be delinquent.

cd. The vehicle being registered must be titled in the name of the permit holder.

de. Proof of real property ownership (such as a deed or tax receipt) and proof of residency (such as voter’s registration card, homestead exemption card, or driver’s license) must be presented to the Tax Collector at the time of application to document the requirements of this section. For property titled in the name of a business or owned by multiple owners, the person applying for the permit shall show proof that they own a controlling interest in the property or that they are otherwise entitled to obtain a permit for the property. “Controlling interest in the property or that they are otherwise entitled” means that the person applying for the permits owns more than 50% ownership interest in the property or has a resolution signed by the other owners of the property grants the person applying for the permit the authority to apply for the permit.

Could you please clarify this for me....I really was concerned to think that any person who was a just a registered voter, who own no Walton County property and paid no Real Estate taxes would be allowed a beach permit while the rest of us have to own a property, have our taxes up to date, etc. If you remembered many of our property owners lost their beach permits because they had no structure on their property and now the county is considering allowing all those with just a voter card to apply also. There are only 150 permits up for know, with this addition you all have added a whole new group to complete for one of those limited permits. In my humble opinion I feel that the county is creating a special group which really doesn't seem fair for those of us playing by the rules that were previously adopted by the county.

Her reply (which I received today, 12-30) in so many words:

Sections 22-57(c)(i)(b) and (d) would only apply to property owners, the county's intent in adding the words registered voters under Section 22-57(c)(i) was to expand those eligible to apply for a permit under the existing ordinance. So if the proposed ordinance is approved, then a registered voter, (who did not own property {my insert}) would also be eligible to apply for one of the 150 permits.

I share this with you for you to make your own decision on this proposed change. I felt that the placement of "Registered Voters" in the section of the Ordinance, was misleading and the real meaning of the addition, the ability for a person, who owned no property, paid no taxes and would be in equal standing with those of us who had to show property ownership for our Beach Permits would be missed. Plus there are only a limited number of permits up for grabs...150! I plan to contact all of the Commissioners before the Feb. 11th meeting and share my views. I leave it up to you as to what you do with this added bit of information.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Commissioners want to add more cars on Grayton Beach

In August the number of Driving on the Beach Permits that were issued in 2010 was 726. There were 71 boat Launching Permits issued and 11 Charter Boat Permits.  In 2009 there were 1063 Driving on the Beach Permirs issued, 71 Boat Launching Permits and 11 Charter Boar Permits. With the new Ordinance, there was a drop of 337 permits. Great results for Grayton!!!!

The whole reason for the original Ordinance was to reduce the number of cars driving on the beach. Since the county's main beach for cars is our Grayton Beach, this reduced number was a good thing. Less cars more space to enjoy the beach! Our Beach can only accomodate so many cars, boats, and beach goers. We have limited sand and Gulf views.

Now the County Commissioners are looking to raise the number of permits, allowing a total of 900 permits to be issued. They are also adding the option that now lot owners, with no physical structure can now apply for a permit.

The lack of a permanent structure is one that bothers me, I feel that only those owners that have a structure on their property should be issued the permits over those without structures. Since home owners pay more taxes than just lot owners, I feel that they deserve the new permits more so than lot owners.

I also feel that if the County feels that adding 174 more permits is a good idea , then I think that they need to open more beach areas that can allow cars instead of just our small Grayton Beach area. I find it interesting that they have changed their views in less than a year. Originally they explained to those of us that followed the Driving on the Beach issue....That The COUNTY had to limit the number of cars on the beach.  That their goal was to slowly reduce the number of cars on the beach. The ordinance they passed ...did that, but now they want to add more cars.
My other concern is they are not addressing this part of the ordinance: The person applying for the permit must have had a permit as of the effective date of this ordinance (2010) and for the year preceding the date of application.(2009)  If the person didn't have a permit in 2010 or 2009, how will they apply for one in 2011? Am sure this is just and oversight on their part, but it does need to be addressed.
Let the Commissioners know your feelings on this....I plan to attend the meeting and will provide an update after the meeting.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

County Commissioners Meeting Oct 26

My reaction to a new Driving on Beach Draft:
I am very interested in the Driving on the Beach permit that was discussed tonight at the County Commissioners meeting. I believe that the county's plan that was drawn up and voted on did exactly what the Commissioners wanted, .....It reduced the number of cars on the limited beach located at Grayton. Tonight I heard the concerns that the County Commissioners wanted their lawyer to look at:
1. Disable permits adjustments
2. Cap the number of permits to 900
3. Hold a lottery to allow permits to be issued up to that number
4. Remove the requirement that a structure should be on the property.
In early August I asked the Tax office to share the number of permits issued as of the August 1st deadline. The following information was shared:
2009- 1063 permits issued
71 boat launch permits
11 charter permits

2010 726 permits issued
71 boat launch permits
11 charter permits

A reduction of 337 permits from 2009 - 2010.
This lower numbers happened because there was a limit of one permit per lot with structure. In the past some owners had up to 6 permits...they got them for all family members. In limiting them to one permit per property it really made a difference. I feel that if we remove the structure on the lot requirement we will be going backwards. In the past we had some folks buy a small piece of property in the county and have multiple owners, one case had 14 owners, and all fourteen had permits to drive on the beach. If there really is going to be a lottery to reach the magical number of 900, then I would like to see the lottery open to those who own property with structures that missed the deadline, and to those new owners that have purchased new properties with homes on them. I really feel that offering permits to property owners with no structures is not a good idea. I am surprised that the Commissioners would look at the number of 726 permits issued as a "problem" since they expressed at all of the hearings the whole reason for the ordinance was to reduce the number of cars on the beach. As you know the area that cars can drive on in Grayton is a very small area (about 875 feet of beach front)...and the space has to be shared with our Charter Boats and their trucks and trailers. We are fortunate that with 20 Charter permits allowed that only 11 have been issued. We also have 71 boat launch permits which allows boat trailers too. I am sure that there is no solution that is the perfect answer, but the Commissioners worked with the public last year on this ordinance for a long time and I think we came up with a fair plan, and best of all it did work we lowered the number of permits issued.
I would love to only allow any new Grayton Beach Property Owners, or those who missed the deadline be the first ones honored by the lottery, but I know from past experience that this will not fly.  Wouldn't it be great, if we could get the Commissioners to agree that a permit issued to a home in Grayton could be passed down to other family members? You know part of the Grayton Beach history is driving on the beach and our properties tend to stay within the family. Again, please if you have feelings one way or the other contact the Commissioners (emails on GBNA blog) or Ms. Hoshihara who has been charged to draft the new update. Also mark Dec 14th on your Calendar for Public Hearing.
I understand the concern of those Grayton Property Owners who rent their properties, with the proposed Short Term Rental Draft. I do not own any rental properties so I only speak from a resident who lives among short term renters. I experience the noise, the parking problems , where one house is shared with many many cars. Some Grayton Visitors are wonderful, others seem to leave their common sense at home. As much as one hates to be the party pooper with our holiday guests, at 2AM it is nice to know who to contact to complain about the visiting guests. You hate to call the police to complain. I think the old ordinance that was rejected went to far and demanded too much of those folks who rent out their hopefully those of you who do rent will contact the two folks listed and share your comments and suggestions with them. I just ask you to remember that there are many of us who live here year round and we have the right to enjoy our environments too.
Please free to leave me comments.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Musical Noise in Grayton

Grayton Beach has a Noise Ordinance. You can read it here:

I live on Pine Street on the other side of Rivard, and in the evenings I can hear the music and the microphone chatter from Pandora's. I can only imagine what those residents on the Grayton Trail hear. It does break up that cool Fall Sleeping that I was referring too. This is just another case where our neighborhood commercial establishments have extended their entertainment out into the neighborhood beyond the limits of their property boundaries. To combat this, one has to close the doors and windows and give up that cool Fall Sleeping or wait for the magical bewitching hour when the music stops.

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