Judge dismisses case related to Sandestin DRI drainage standards

A LEGAL COMPLAINT involving stormwater retention standards in the Sandestin Development of Regional Impact (DRI) has been dismissed. (Photo by Dotty Nist)

By DOTTY NIST

Dismissed on Dec. 30 was a legal complaint aimed at ascertaining whether Walton County is using the proper standard for stormwater retention in the Sandestin Development of Regional Impact (DRI), including Driftwood Estates, along with other matters related to the DRI.

Plaintiff Samuel Alan Osborne had filed the original complaint in Walton County Circuit Court against Walton County approximately a year earlier, in December 2021. Osborne was until recently a homeowner in a portion of the Sandestin DRI, specifically in Driftwood Estates Phase I.

He had maintained that permits had been granted for properties within the DRI, “using a standard that Osborne believes is not supported by the DRI and other laws, rules, regulations and agreements.”

Osborne had also stated that Walton County had issued “the permits at issue in this case” for property in Driftwood Estates Phase I, maintaining that the permit issuance had reduced the value of his property and had required him to spend funds to remediate for the county’s “improper use of a standard for stormwater retention.”

In the complaint, the court was asked to make a determination whether the proper standard for stormwater retention was being used and whether the permits issued had been properly or illegally issued.

Sought with the complaint was a declaration that the county was required “to provide minimum stormwater standards/treatment regarding permits that are issued to retain the runoff from a three year 24 hour event, i.e., 6.7 inches of rainfall, and that stormwater facilities must be consistent with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rules regarding discharge to the waters of this State.”

Osborne had maintained that the permits issued were inconsistent with the DRI development order due to not complying, according to his argument, with these standards.

The Sandestin Owners Association had been allowed to intervene in the case as a defendant along with Walton County.

Walton County had moved for dismissal of the case, maintaining that the plaintiff had failed to state a claim against the county.

In a Dec. 30, 2021, order, Walton County Circuit Court Judge David Green, presiding judge in the case, stated that after a (Dec. 10, 2021) hearing on Walton County’s motion to dismiss the case, “the court and the parties became aware that the plaintiff had sold his home in Driftwood Estates, Phase I,” with that subdivision having been the subject of the case.

Osborne had argued that he should still have the right to participate in the litigation, in part due to owning other property “within the same geographic area as his former homestead” and also within the Sandestin DRI.

However, Judge Green ruled that due to the sale of his Driftwood Estates Phase I property, Osborne “no longer has a sufficient stake in a justiciable controversy with a legally cognizable interest which would be affected by the outcome of the litigation,” (a justiciable controversy meaning a real issue that can be settled in a court).

On that basis, Judge Green dismissed the case with prejudice, and the case has been closed.