Officials to Rehear Bed and Breakfast Request, Other Proposals

By DOTTY NIST

Scheduled to be heard by county commissioners is a request that had failed in 2016 for a bed and breakfast, along an amendment that would change property from Residential to Extractive Uses and a number of other land use proposals.
These are on the agenda for the 4 p.m. Sept. 12 Walton County Board of County Commissioners meeting at the South Walton Annex.
The bed and breakfast proposal, known as Summer House Bed and Breakfast, previously went before the BCC on June 21, 2016. Three stories and 25 guest rooms, it was proposed for a 0.65-acre lot across U.S. 98 from Walton Rose Lane in Inlet Beach, on the north side of the highway.
With only four of five county commissioners in attendance at the June 2106 meeting which the hearing took place, a motion for approval of the bed and breakfast failed for lack of a second. Next, without discussion, a motion for denial garnered a 2-2 vote, resulting in, as it had been announced, failure of the development proposal.
Based on that decision, a final order of denial for the proposal was rendered two days later on June 23. The order had stated that the application had been denied “based on the development not being residential in character.”
On July 22, about a month after the order of denial, project applicant Rita Bottems filed a lawsuit appealing the denial order.
A little over a year after the filing of the appeal, on June 27, Walton County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey E. Lewis observed that “the absence of any deliberation or debate makes the reason for the tie vote unclear at best…” He opined that the tie vote in connection with the denial motion had constituted a failure to deny the application, rather than a denial of the application. Judge Lewis found that the decision rendered on the application represented “a substantial departure from the essential requirements of law….”
Judge Lewis ruled that the order of denial was therefore “quashed” or negated by the court—and ordered that the cause be “remanded” or sent back for further proceedings. The result was the new hearing on the project by the BCC.
The amendment on the agenda is a Large Scale amendment that would apply to the northern 198.17 acres of a 368.58-acre parcel on the north side of Rock Hill Road, about 3.5 miles from the Rock Hill Road/U.S. 331 intersection. Property owner Thomas Hicks is the applicant, and the requested change is from Estate Residential to Extractive Uses. The stated purpose of the amendment is to provide for the applicant to continue operating the property as a sand pit, a nonconforming use in Estate Residential, and allow for some limited sorting of materials and receipt of land clearing debris.
Other land use items on the agenda include: CEFCO CR393 & US98, a 5,500-square-foot convenience store proposed by the Fikes Company for the northwest corner of the CR-393/U.S. 98 intersection in Santa Rosa Beach; Indian Woman Subdivision, consisting of approximately 31 single-family lots on 9.79 acres located on the west side of Indian Woman Road, about one mile east of the CR-393/Chat Holley Road intersection in Santa Rosa Beach; Santa Rosa Beach COW (cell on wheels), a temporary 120-foot-tall cell tower proposed for a parcel at 228 Sea Croft Drive in Santa Rosa Beach; and plats for Grande Pointe Estates and Pathways at WaterSound Phase 2.