INLET BEACH — Walton County Code Enforcement officers served cease and desist orders Tuesday at a Winston Lane home that has become a nuisance to neighbors.
County Planning Department head Mac Carpenter announced that the residence of 210 Winston Lane and The Pointe condominium had been ordered to cease the use of the property as a "beach club and amenity extension of The Pointe."
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He made the announcement after residents of Inlet Beach called upon Walton County commissioners to address what they consider to be an illegal use of a residential property by beach vendor Rent Gear Here.
Group leader Mike Scher said after the meeting he wasn’t completely happy with the county’s declining to rescind the beach vending permit held by the owner of 210 Winston Lane that allows Rent Gear Here to rent beach chairs and umbrellas behind the home there.
County Attorney Sidney Noyes advised commissioners they could not take direct action Tuesday to rescind the Rent Gear Here permit. To do so would require changes to the county’s beach activities ordinance and meeting the public hearing and advertising that making those changes would entail.
The citations issued would be brought before a code compliance board for review, Noyes said.
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With The Pointe no longer able to use the same permit to set up chairs and umbrellas of its own for its guests, there was general agreement that some of the crowding on the beach behind the home would be alleviated.
"I think we’ve made progress," said Scher.
The county has for years issued permits to private homeowners that allow them to contract with beach vendors to provide their services. Beach vending is not treated in the same way as other businesses, which has led to abuses, county officials said.
Carpenter recommended that at the end of the summer season commissioners revisit the protocols for beach vending activity like that being performed by Rent Gear Here at Inlet Beach.
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Commissioners appeared in favor of making changes.
"It’s sort of disingenuous to say a business that’s collecting thousands of dollars, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars, is not a business, that’s kind of counter-intuitive," said Commissioner Danny Glidewell.
Last week, three rows of umbrellas, chairs and people were stretched across, and beyond, the 122-foot beach lot behind the home at 210 Winston Lane, which is bordered on one side by the eastern boundary of Rosemary Beach and the other by another private parcel.
Chairs and umbrellas bearing the insignias of both Rent Gear Here and The Pointe were clearly in evidence.
Under the cease and desist order, The Pointe must remove all of its equipment from the Inlet Beach residence.
Rent Gear Here was also ordered to stop setting up umbrellas and chairs within 33 feet of the public access way that runs between 210 Winston Lane and the eastern boundary of Rosemary Beach.
Steps will also be taken to prevent people from walking across the dune that separates the home at 210 Winston Lane, which is owned by a Dallas man, from the beach.