SWCC update on amenments to Beach Activities Ordinance
Several members have asked about the proposed Beach Activities and Lighting ordinances. Here is an update on the proposed amendments to the existing Beach Activities Ordinance. I will provide information on the proposed county-wide Lighting Ordinance in a separate email. Both proposals have been tabled for further study and revision. They will be re-presented in the future to the Planning Commission and County Commissioners. You can get a copy of both proposals from the Planning Department at the SW Courthouse Annex.
The Beach Activities Ordinance Amendment. The county has proposed several amendments to the existing ordinance. Here is a synopsis of the more substantive proposals:
1. Allowing driving within the 66’ right of way of Lakeshore Drive in the Inlet Beach area. This proposal
generated the most controversy with an adjacent property owner complaining about noise and damage
to the beach and parking on his property and one resident disputing the property owner’s concerns
and claiming an entitlement to drive on the beach. Former county commissioner Van Ness Butler
stated the beach access in this area had been closed during his term as county commissioner. County
staff will research the history of this access area and will consider the matter further.
2. Beach chairs, umbrellas, tents, and other personal items must be stored off the beach overnight. According to a memo from the former Beach Activities Director, this proposal is important for turtle nesting
and hatching season. There has been a documented instance in 2006 in which a nesting turtle ran into a chair left on the beach. There is also the problem of stuff being strewn around the beach from people leaving their chairs, toys, etc. within the high tide range. The TDC currently has to handle distinguishing items that have been abandoned from those being left long term by tourists or residents.
One property owner complained about having to remove his kayak at night. He indicated it was cumbersome due to its weight. The issue of property rights was also raised for those gulf front owners who own to the high water mark.
3. Vehicles on the Beach. Several provisions dealing with a processing and permit fee and decals
incorporated ordinances on these issues which had been passed in 2005.
4. Beach Vendors. One proposal would prohibit temporary structures on the beach other than the
temporary storage boxes currently allowed. County staff indicated they were receiving complaints about
some vendors constructing cabanas and other structures which went beyond what was intended to be
allowed. This is to clarify the issue.
A second provision incorporated an ordinance passed in 2004 which prohibits vending on public beaches
without written authorization from the county and any private property owner whose southern property
line is contiguous with the proposed vending location.
5. Safety buoys. For vendors who rent jet propelled boats, this proposal increases the required designated
access corridor to be marked by at least two as opposed to one orange or red buoy.
6. Parking on the Beach in the Grayton Beach Area. The current ordinance requires that vehicles launching
boats must park in designated areas. Currently boats are launched and retrieved in Grayton Beach with
no designated parking areas. According to the former Beach Activities Director, swimmers complain that
the vehicles are being left in “valuable beach area”. Fishermen are complaining that beach users will
not move to let them get their boats in and out. They therefore have to leave their vehicles and trailers
on the beach so they can insure a spot where they can retrieve their boats. The issue is further
complicated by the fact that boat owners have indicated there must be some flexibility in where they
retrieve their boats due to tides, shoreline configuration, people congestion, etc.
The question raised by staff is whether to designate a parking area or delete the requirement from the
current ordinance and maintain the status quo. Apparently a few residents have questioned whether to
continue to allow vehicles on the beach in this area. No decision has been made on any of these issues.
Public Input. You will have an opportunity to comment on any of these proposals when the ordinance is placed on the agenda for public comment. We will let you know when that happens. You can also provide input by emailing the county at the address indicated below.
Pat Blackshear at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope this is helpful.
SWCC Executive Director
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