DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — A third party may have interfered with Walton County acquiring land near Choctawhatchee Bay.
County Commissioners voted Tuesday to not purchase a waterfront parcel off State Road 20 near Basin Bayou near Freeport.
Commissioner Danny Glidewell said that after the board voted to have the property appraised, another party bought it.
With the new asking price well above the parcel's appraised value, Chairman Tony Anderson said it seemed like someone was "trying to make a quick buck."
"I for one don't like that, (and) I'm not going to ever vote for a situation like that," he added.
County spokesman Louis Svehla said the county found out about the land after being told it was available for purchase. The county planned to develop the property for public recreation.
The Walton County Property Appraiser's Office lists the 3.16-acre parcel's value at a little more than $526,000. In an email forwarded to the Daily News, Stan Sunday, a deputy county administrator, said that two additional appraisals put the property at $650,000 and $795,000.
On Feb. 28, 7451 State Highway 20 LLC — which is also the address of the parcel — purchased the property from Evans Max Denis and Barbara Jean Clark Evans for $635,000, according to property records.
Sunday said in the email that the seller — he did not provide names associated with the LLC — wanted at least $1.2 million for the parcel.
"This isn't the first time and probably won't be the last time that we lose out on a property because we can't pay over the appraised value," Glidewell said.
Alan Osbourne told the commission at the meeting that he recalled a previously approved motion he said required an environmental study to be done for the land before it could be appraised.
Osbourne said he couldn't find the study and questioned if it ever occurred. He received no reply from the board.
Commissioner Trey Nick recused himself from the vote because he owns Nick's Seafood Restaurant directly across the channel from the parcel.
Anderson admitted that the actions by the company, however unsavory to the commissioners, were legal.
"I don't mind anybody making a profit, that's what America's all about, but this just kind of turns my stomach," he said.