There was a significant omission on the newly revised Waterways and Beach Activities Ordinance that was released Monday.
Removed was a line that would allow visitors the option to purchase permits to bring their dogs to the beach.
The initial inclusion of that item didn't go over well with the crowd gathered at the Jan. 8 BCC meeting, when Interim County Administrator Gerry Demers brought the revised ordinance before the commission for approval.
"At the last board meeting, the board directed me to remove that," said Demers. "The reason I removed it was because the board directed me to; it was probably based on the public."
Demers was tapped last year as the person in charge of revising and compiling existing beach ordinances to make a singular, comprehensive one.
He was supposed to make minor revisions, compile existing ordinances into one, and possibly address fees for various permits, according to District 5 Commissioner Cindy Meadows. Though the former commissioners may have asked him to look into permits for visiting dogs, as Meadows assumed, it should not have come to be a part of the ordinance.
"Gerry went out of bounds," said Meadows. "He admits he really should not have added that back in."
Demers openly agreed.
"It was beyond the scope of what I was tasked to do," he said at the South Walton-located BCC meeting.
So Demers obliged and removed "that language and put it back to the way it was in the existing ordinance," he said.
Though that disliked part of the ordinance was removed, South Walton's residents and Meadows haven't forgotten that there may be a larger issue of enforcement at hand.
"We just can't adopt a lot of ordinances we can't enforce," said Meadows.
Lack of enforcement of the existing beach ordinances is a much-felt sentiment from residents of beach communities, but this hasn't always been a contentious issue. When Meadows was commissioner previously, 2004 to 2008, the county had an entire department devoted to code enforcement.
"It cost money," she said. But, "We had a handle on it."
The five or six people in the department were able to give almost 24-7 coverage in South Walton and were devoted to making sure residents and visitors were adhering to the rules of the beach, Meadows told The Sun.
When the recession hit, however, "that was one of the departments they laid off," said Meadows.
She hopes with the uptick in visitors and revenues, there will be more coverage to come.
"We have to," she said of the importance of putting money back into a code enforcement department.
"We've got this golden goose," she said. "We’ve got to have rules and we've got to enforce them."
The revised ordinance is available on the county's website at www.co.walton.fl.us/DocumentCenter/View/7620. The ordinance will come before the commission for approval at the Jan. 22 BCC meeting in DeFuniak Springs at 9 a.m.