Walton County Commissioners held a special meeting Monday morning to hear a continuation of discussion from Dec. 12 of the county's Beach Activities Ordinance and made some important changes.
Some of those changes include no more charcoal grills will be allowed on Walton County beaches, the annual fee for temporary service vendors will go up, it is now against the law to move vendor poles or lifeguard stands, 10-by-10 tents are now allowable on public beaches on the northern one-third of the sandy beach, drones on the beach will be getting regulation, any classes taught on the beach must have a permit, and beach bonfire permits are now only good until 1 a.m.
The fee for temporary service providers such as beach photographers will now be $150 annually.
Vendor rental chair storage will remain as it is with a motion for total removal failing. The vote was 2-2 with District 3 Commissioner Melanie Nipper and District 4 Commissioner Sara Comander voting for total removal and District 1 Commissioner Bill Chapman and District 5 Commissioner Tony Anderson voting against it. District 2 Commissioner Cecilia Jones recused herself.
Food and beverage vending on public beach and beach-chair vending next to private property are still not allowed.
During the three-and-a-half hour meeting commissioners heard from a myriad of citizens as well as those who work in the vending business with the most contentious item being the removal of beach chairs and umbrellas every night.
This past year saw a 30 percent increase in beach chair vendors on South Walton's beaches due to the added demand from the increase in the number of visitors.
"We saw fewer problems this past season and the problems we saw were less than the year before, so it's getting better," said Brian Kellenberger, director of beach operations for Walton County Tourist Development Council.