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County foregoes participation in Driftwood litigation

Oct 1st, 2008 | 0

By DOTTY NIST

On the advice of their legal counsel, the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) took no action with regard to entering into a lawsuit filed against developers of the new interior portion of the Driftwood Estates subdivision.
Two weeks previously, the BCC had asked Mike Burke, county legal counsel, to review the lawsuit and provide information on the advisability of the county entering into the ongoing suit, which had been filed in 2007 by owners of existing homes in Driftwood Estates.
“I do not think it’s the appropriate vehicle for the board to get involved in at this time,” Burke said of the lawsuit at the Sept. 23 BCC meeting. Burke did not rule out future legal action on the matter, in the absence of a successful resolution of stormwater drainage issues in the subdivision.
He explained that, in his opinion, the goals of plantiffs in the existing lawsuit are not the same as that of the county, which is to assure that the developers comply with the conditions of their development order.
He reported that work is expected to start immediately on improvements that were part of an agreement between developer Olson and Associates and the county to correct stormwater drainage infrastructure deficiencies in the interior of the subdivision.
Representing the developer, attorney George Ralph Miller confirmed that funding is now available to put a contractor to work immediately on the agreed-on items. “My client is trying;” he said, “these are difficult times.”
Burke also reported that the county is close to acquiring a very important historic drainage easement in the subdivision that is located on privately-owned property and is currently closed-off.
Greater Driftwood Estates spokesman Alan Osborne reported to the commissioners on the impact of the rise of the level of the Choctawhatchee Bay that accompanied the recent arrival of Hurricane Ike on the Gulf Coast.
Osborne reported that the bay “got up into the pavement” in his subdivision, even in the absence of any rain. He added that the gated emergency exit for the subdivision, which was not opened, became flooded earlier than the 200-plus-lot subdivision’s one access road. That road, according to Osborne, “has been under water 17 times in four years.”
Driftwood homeowners are seeking a court decision to get an alternate access road through Sandestin reopened. That road had been closed off by Sandestin decades earlier. A court date on that case is scheduled for August 2009. The commissioners authorized their legal counsel to work with attorneys involved in that litigation to seek and request an earlier court date on that matter.

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