By DOTTY NIST
Regulations applying to solicitation and fund raising events along county roads may soon be part of the Walton County Code of Ordinances.
County commissioners recently approved draft language for the Roadside Fund Raising Ordinance to be moved forward to a public hearing. That decision took place at the Nov. 26 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) regular meeting at the Walton County Courthouse.
Over the past couple of years there have been many complaints from citizens about groups engaged in fund raising, some related to traffic being tied up by collection of money at intersections during already-busy times for traffic. Concern has also been expressed for fund raising groups’ safety, particularly for children involved.
A county policy already in place requires that groups soliciting funds on county roads be nonprofit and that a county permit be obtained for the fund raising events on the roadways.
The proposed ordinance would require an application from groups to be engaging in roadside fund raising to be submitted at least 45 days in advance of the activity. Required to be included with the application would be the names and addresses of all persons to participate and the name and address of the organization or person to receive funds from the event. Proof that the organization is an established 501© charitable institution would also be required, along with demonstrating that the fund raising activity would provide benefit to Walton County.
The date and location of the event would be required, along with contact information for a responsible party in case of any emergency.
There are also insurance requirements. Participants would have to be covered for bodily or other injury, and the organization would also have to be covered for property damage in connection with the event.
As proposed, the ordinance would not allow fund raising events to take place on CR-30A or at any intersection of that county road.
An additional requirement would be for “one location per permit”— and only one roadside fund raising event would be permitted to be held on any calendar day.
The county would not issue permits for roadside fund raising events to be held on a holiday or on any day preceding a holiday. The proposed ordinance would also prohibit permits from being issued for dates between March 1 and May 1 or between Memorial Day and Sept. 15.
Each group applying for a permit would be limited to two fund raising events a year.
The county would have the right to deny any application for activities to be conducted “during peak times of expected high traffic volume.”
Participants would be required to wear safety vests and not block entrances/access to private property.
No one under the age of 18 would be allowed to participate in the events.
The ordinance would limit signage to 18 inches by 24 inches and would require signs to be removed from the right-of-way by two days after the event.
No one would be allowed to stand in the middle of the road or intersection. Fund raisers would be able to approach a vehicle to collect contributions but not hold up traffic.
The Walton County Sheriff’s Office and Walton County Code Enforcement would be authorized to enforce the ordinance.
Violators of the ordinance would be subject to prosecution and upon conviction subject to a fine of up to $500 or imprisonment, or to both fine and imprisonment.
The public hearing for the ordinance is scheduled in conjunction with the Jan. 14 BCC meeting, which is to begin at 4 p.m. and take place at the South Walton Annex.
By DOTTY NIST