If you ask just about any resident or visitor of Sandestin if they want a chapel built on property for church services, weddings and other religious activities, you will get an overwhelming positive response.  Unfortunately, the Walton County planning office doesn’t see it that way, and are throwing up ridiculous roadblocks to stop it.

When Sandestin was planned and built over 35 years ago, no one included a church building in the original draft of the plat. Now a Walton County planning official says that because of that, the original plat must be amended and go through all the bureaucratic hoops before any chapel can be even considered in Sandestin. 

I am the Chairman of the Board of The Gathering at Sandestin, a non-denominational worship service which has been conducted in the Linkside Conference Center in Sandestin for two and a half years now. Our congregation has grown significantly since our beginnings and we are outgrowing our small room we have been renting from Sandestin. Now, Sandestin wants to build a new chapel on the property, using their own money, not far from us, and allow us to use the facility for residents, visitors and guests.

The small plot of land is not near houses or commercial areas and has plenty of parking nearby.

For some reason, the bureaucrats in Walton County want to stop that.

 I have a message for the planning department.  This is not a gas station, this is not an office building, this is not a bank, this is not an amusement park, this is not a movie theater. This will be a building where people come to worship God on Sundays, where couples come to say their wedding vows before God, where families and loved ones can share their grief over the loss of loved ones. 

Don’t deny us that right.

My experience is that bureaucracies can find reasons to stop anything they want to stop or to approve anything they want built.  There is no reason to stop this chapel and they should approve it now.


Jay Stone

The Gathering



Walton County public information officer Louis Svehla said a compliance hearing between the Sandestin owners, homeowners and county officials will be held sometime in May to determine the future of the chapel and other pending projects in Sandestin.“It’s not something like we are picking on the chapel,” he told The Sun. “We want to get all the issues out in front and get them resolved all at one time.