The Real Deal Miami

Walton County sued over development denial

Gables law firm Weiss Serota represents plaintiff who wants to build a bed-and-breakfast inn

September 25, 2016 01:00PM

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Inlet Beach in southern Walton County

Inlet Beach in southern Walton County

A Coral Gables law firm is handling a lawsuit against the Walton County Commission over its denial of an application to build a bed-and-breakfast inn on U.S. 98 along the Gulf of Mexico.

Attorneys with Coral Gables-based Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman filed the suit on behalf of plaintiff Rita Bottems, whose application to develop a 25-room property called Summer House Bed and Breakfast was denied for “not being residential in character,” according to a June 23 final order denying Bottems’ application.

Bottems’ development site is a 0.65-acre lot in Inlet Beach. The land-use classification of the lot in Walton County’s comprehensive plan is “neighborhood infill.”

The county commission denied Bottems’ application to build a bed-and-breakfast on the site because no commissioner made a second motion to approve it.

The commission also voted 2-2 on a motion to deny the development application and announced that the tie vote had caused the development proposal to fail.

On behalf of Bottems, Weiss Serota argues that the final order of denial improperly expands the applicable criteria for compliance with Walton County’s comprehensive plan by asserting that the use of a property – not just its structural exterior – must be “residential in character.”

The lawsuit against the Walton County Commission also contends that the 2-2 vote was not a procedural dead end for the development proposal but a failure of the motion to deny the bed-and-breakfast development application.

The inn is designed as a three-story, 13,100-square-foot building with parking spaces on the ground floor of the structure. [The Defuniak Herald]Mike Seemuth

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