Article Courtesy of The
By Dotty Nist
Published March 17, 2019
Walton County’s complaint for declaration of recreational customary use of the
beach, orders have been issued during recent weeks granting requests to
intervene. Some orders involve numerous property owners and associations.
The orders come in the wake of a Feb. 18
court hearing on various motions to intervene. The vast
majority of the motions have been in opposition to the
The Florida Coastal Property Rights Association (FlaCPR)
reported on March 7 that a total of owners of 570 beachfront
parcels had filed to intervene in the case. FlaCPR is a
coalition established by Walton County beachfront property
owners who oppose the county complaint for declaration of
recreational customary use.
The task of determining which motions to intervene in the
lawsuit are granted is that of Walton County Circuit Court
Judge David Green, presiding judge in the matter.
In a March 4 order, Judge Green granted a motion to
intervene by 44 property owners. In one March 6 order, a
motion to intervene on behalf of 63 property owners and six
associations was granted. In another March 6 order, a motion
to intervene by owners of another 39 parcels was granted.
A number of other motions to intervene were granted on March
11, as well.
WALTON COUNTY’S complaint for declaration of
recreational customary use of the beach is proceeding in court, with
motions to intervene by numerous parties being granted in recent
In addition, on March 4 Judge Green granted a motion to
intervene on behalf of the Grand Dunes II Condominium Owners’ Association,
whose members/unit owners do not own beachfront property but have a specific
right to use beachfront property. In contrast with what has generally been
the case in the matter, this motion to intervene was not granted on the
basis of section 163.035, Florida Statutes, the section stemming from House
Bill 631 (HB 631).
Section 163.035 negated Walton County’s customary use beach ordinance and
set forth steps for local governments to follow in order to seek to affirm
customary recreational use of the beach. The section directed that, to do
the latter, the government local must proceed with a Complaint for
Declaration of Customary Use, must provide notice of the lawsuit to the
owners of all parcels “subject to the complaint,” and that the notice must
“allow the owner receiving the notice to intervene in the proceeding,”
within a set time frame.
Due to the Grand Dunes II members/owners not being beachfront property
owners, the motion was granted on the basis of the Florida Rules of Civil
Procedure rather than section 163.035.
“Grand Dunes II is hereby granted intervention as a full party defendant
pursuant to Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.221 and 1.230 in its name on
behalf of all its unit owners in the main proceeding of this matter not
subordinate to it or any other related proceeding,” according to the order.
A motion filed on behalf of owners of a beachfront lot on Montgomery Street
in the Seagrove area makes a “counterclaim,” requesting that the court
declare the property owners’ “rights” as members of “the Seahighlands
Subdivision Homeowners’ Association,” to ownership of the property to the
south of their lot, “to a point south of the high water mark where the Gulf
of Mexico is 15 feet deep, including, but not limited to, the dune, beach,
There has been no order on the latter motion at this time.
A small number of motions to intervene have been filed in support of the
On Feb. 18, Judge Green had ruled that 60 days from that date be allowed for
Walton County to ensure that notice of the complaint has been provided to
all parties as required, and that an additional 45 days then be allowed for
answers, responses, and requests to be filed with the court.