By DOTTY NIST
In response to complaints from the public over the past few years about groups engaged in fund raising on county roads, Walton County has now approved an ordinance regulating roadside fund raising.
The ordinance received final approval at the Jan. 14 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting at the South Walton Annex.
A policy previously in place had required a permit in order for groups to conduct roadside fund raising, but there had been instances of groups skirting that requirement and others that were part of the policy. Other practices by fund raising groups that had raised the ire of the public were participants holding up traffic and groups enlisting children to collect donations from the roadside or even while standing in the road.
Most of the complaints had involved activity on CR-30A, a roadway that tends to become congested during the summer months, especially on weekends and holidays.
The ordinance approved at the Jan. 14 meeting does not allow permits to be issued for fund raising on CR-30A or at any intersection of that county highway. It also specifies that no one under the age of 18 may participate in roadside fund raising activities.
Fund raising may be permitted on other county roads within the unincorporated area of the county. Walton County does not have permitting authority over such activity within municipalities or on state or federal roadways.
Applications for roadside fund raising permits must be submitted to Walton County Administration 45 calendar days in advance of the start of a fund raising event. Applications are available from county administration or on the Walton County web site, www.co.walton.fl.us.
Only nonprofit organizations are allowed to conduct roadside fund raising, and proof that the organization is an established 501(c) organization is required as part of the application process. Another requirement for applications is that the organization document that the event will provide a charitable benefit for the citizens of Walton County.
Groups conducting fund raising are also required to be insured against injury or property damage claims in connection with the activity, with Walton County named as an additional insured on the group’s public liability insurance policy.
Rules for roadside fund raising state that there may be only one location per permit and that the county will permit only one roadside fund raising event on any calendar day.
Permits will not be issued for events to take place on holidays, on any day immediately before or after a holiday, or for events between March 1 through April 30 and May 1 through Sept. 15. The county also reserves the right to deny any application for fund raising activities for a date during which high traffic volume is expected.
Each group will be limited to two roadside fund raising events per year.
Fund raisers are required to wear safety vests and guard against blocking driveways, entrances, or access to private property.
Signage associated with roadside fund raising is not allowed to be larger than 18 inches by 24 inches. Signage may be put up no earlier than two days before the event and must be removed by two days after the event.
Participants must remain out of the roadway and no participant is allowed to stand in the middle of the intersection. Fund raisers may approach vehicles to take donations, but they are not allowed to hold up traffic.
Permits issued for fund raising events must be kept on site and be available for viewing upon request.
According to the ordinance, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office and Walton County Code Enforcement are authorized to enforce its provisions. Violations of the ordinance may be prosecuted in the same manner as misdemeanors and are punishable by a fine of up to $500, or by imprisonment, or by both fine and imprisonment. Citations may also be issued in connection with violations of the ordinance, and the county may use “any lawful methods of enforcement and remedy to gain compliance,” among those the methods provided for in sections 1 though 6 of the Walton County Land Development Code.
The Roadside Fund Raising Ordinance was approved unanimously with little discussion at the BCC meeting, and no one came forward to provide public comment on the ordinance.
By DOTTY NIST