SoWal Small Business Owners Offer Solutions For Problematic Park - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

SoWal Small Business Owners Offer Solutions For Problematic Parking Ordinance

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It was democracy at work in Walton County, Wednesday, as more than 130 small business owners protest a proposed ordinance affecting parking spaces.

The county is looking for solutions to fix the prevalent issue without damaging business.

Business owners from the Walton County Small Business Alliance are calling this "over-regulation", with the potential to be detrimental.

Wednesday, they gathered once again to further address the proposed ordinance that regulates off-street parking for both residential and commercial development.

Compliance to the ordinance is difficult, they said, because the required number of spots per square foot, employees and customers often far outweigh what they currently have or it requires more land area than they are able or willing to purchase.

While the draft ordinance is clear that these businesses already in existence would be grandfathered in, the coalition said that's not true.

In the event of a major storm, should a business have to rebuild, they said it would be impossible under such restrictive demands.

"If we have a major catastrophe, an Opal that hits us, God forbid, and these businesses are destroyed, how're they going to do that? The only answer is the change we have to make. You know, you said you used Okaloosa County guidelines and Bay County's guidelines...Guess what, we're not them. We're Walton County," said business owner, Tony Anderson.

Alternatives like off site parking with shuttle service were tossed around as a means to an end for a potentially divisive issue.

Business owners also questioned the necessity to have this be a county wide ordinance, when it seems the main issue occurs in south Walton County.

Some suggested localizing the ordinance to the 30-A corridor and scaling back some of the language that wouldn't affect areas on the northern end of Walton County.