Business Owners Pack Walton Commission Meeting Discussing Parkin - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Business Owners Pack Walton Commission Meeting Discussing Parking

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There were tense moments in a Walton County Commission Meeting, as more than 100 small business owners filled the board room in Santa Rosa Beach.

They were seeking solutions for a proposed parking ordinance they say is potentially threatening to their livelihoods!

They call themselves the Walton County Small Business Alliance; a coalition who's mission is to create a blue ribbon committee to address the parking issue and proposed ordinances.

"The parking problem already exists. So, an ordinance that addresses future construction won't fix your parking problem. You're going to have to have a multi-factorial fix," said WCSBA representative, Gary Shipman    

Thursday, he spoke for the majority of the standing room only crowd, presenting their case why they'd like to see the board of commissioners approve such a committee. It would feature members from the WCSBA, the Board of Commissioners, the Sheriff's Office and the TDC.

The proposed parking ordinance regulates off-street parking for future construction for both residential and commercial developments.

Compliance to the ordinance is difficult, the alliance said, because the required number of spots per square foot and other factors often far outweighs what they currently have or requires more land area than they are able or willing to purchase in the event that they must rebuild.

While the group says parking is a problem that must be solved, they said it's a multi-faceted problem that must be solved through a well thought solution that they want to be a part of.

Still, the idea of a committee went over like a lead balloon with Commissioner Cindy Meadows.

"I think the idea that the committee would be the citizens at large...everybody involved would have a say. Instead of having a committee with maybe one or two or three people on there that may have one idea, but they may not represent the large body of the people," said Meadows.

Ultimately, the decision to create a committee was pushed to next commission meeting to allow for more time to collect necessary information. The board stressed that a committee should involve more than small business owners and should really focus on all community stake holders desiring a voice.