Four South Walton communities filed suit in federal court to overturn the county's customary use ordinance.
Those include the town of Seaside homeowners, Vizcaya, Grand Dune I and II, and Paradise by the Sea.
"The suit was filed (Tuesday morning)," said Seaside homeowner Art Kahn.
Kahn said the filing included nine neighborhood associations in Seaside, consisting of 355 properties. All of these have private beach ownership, but they are separate from Seaside Community Development, which is owned by town co-founders Robert and Daryl Davis. As homeowners, the Davises are being represented in the lawsuit although Kahn said Davis has not made his opinions public.
The Sun reached out to the Davises. Daryl Davis responded to say she did not know enough about the suit to have formed an opinion.
The three planned development partners joining with Seaside Town Council members all have ownership of private beach.
"We are suing primarily to invalidate the customary use ordinance," said Kahn. "We have been denied due process under law by the county taking our beach and making it open to the public."
Tampa attorney Dave Smolker is representing the neighborhoods.
"There are so many constitutional problems with this ordinance," Smolker told The Sun. "The county has taken it upon themselves to be judge and jury without the courts making a prior determination. We have separation of powers. Determining customary use is a judicial function the county cannot declare or enforce."
Kahn, a retired attorney, believes the county's purchasing of beach property shows their non-ownership or they would not be spending money to purchase beach accesses.
"I am sympathetic to the public's need for access to beaches, but greatly disappointed that Walton County has let people down in dragging their feet in purchasing accesses. And now they want to take ours," said Kahn. "The answer is not to take our beaches. Walton County has for more than a decade been remiss."
Grand Dunes has 180 properties and all together there are more than 600 properties included in the lawsuit.
"We were careful in vetting properties who wanted to join us," said Kahn. "We wanted to include those similarly situated that have over the course of a decade have interfered with customary use and stood up for their property rights."
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Pensacola.