Six individuals and organizations have filed a legal challenge against the proposed Cypress Lakes development that has been approved for the west end of County Highway 30A.
Walton County Board of County Commissioners approved the development in December and the suit was filed in Circuit Court on Jan. 10.
The suit was filed by Judah Imhoff, who lives across the road from the proposed development; Norman and Theresa Froeshner, who live next to the proposed development in Beachview Heights; Richard Bullard, who lives across the road from the development; Beach to Bay Connection Inc.; and South Walton Community Council.
Named as defendants are Ashwood Holdings Florida LLC, and Walton County.
Cypress Lakes is to be a planned-unit development on 22.36 acres located adjacent to Topsail Hill State Preserve, a critical habitat conservation area.
The development will have a mix of residential and non-residential units.
Cypress Lake was given approval to construct 141 residential units and 53,000 square feet of commercial space that will be located in four four-story mixed-use buildings.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said in the suit that Cypress Lakes is inconsistent with Walton County's Comprehensive Plan and challenges the validity of the county's actions. The suit challenges the methods and methodologies the county utilized in processing, reviewing, approving, and rendering the PUD final order and seeks an injunction against the issuance of any further development orders, permits, or approvals by the county and against the construction of the project.
The suit states that Imhoff, Froeshner, and Bullard will be adversely affected due to incompatibility, density, and intensity of the mixed-use project due to traffic, noise, safety, buffering, and preservation of the Scenic Corridor.
Beach to Bay is a local non-profit organization that advocates in support of environmental and growth management. The organization stated in the suit that Cypress Lakes failed to provide the minimum buffer requirements.
"Cypress Lakes development is violating a number of LDC and Comp Plan codes," said Celeste Cobena of Beach to Bay. "The whole procedure was done outside the county's operating procedure for a PUD. They aren't following their own procedures. It doesn't meet standards. The biggest thing is the density. They have these are little tiny lots and they're using the whole 22 acres adjacent to Topsail Preserve. There is no more environmentally sensitive land. They are supposed to have a 25-foot setback but they have 10 feet. It is incompatible with surroundings."
South Walton Community Council is taking action on behalf of its members, Imholf and Bullard. The community council has participated in growth management, land use, regulatory, and environmental issues throughout South Walton. South Walton Community Council stated that its concern is the density of the project, which they said did not follow the county's Land Development Code.
Fred Tricker chairs the neighborhood committee for the South Walton Community Council said the community council has an interest in controlling development and quality of life.
"We want responsible development," Tricker said. "The problem is the county government is not following county procedures. We want them to follow code. There are seven or eight deviations, all designed to increase density and there is no justification. That's not what we need on 30A."
The suit was filed through Destin Attorney Jennifer Sullivan, who has handled other suits against the county, and Kenneth Goldberg of Tallahassee.
The plaintiffs are asking for donations for lawyers' expenses. To donate, go to www.letitbeforest.com, or mail a donation to Beach to Bay Connection, 412 Hilltop Drive, Santa Rosa Beach, 32459.