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Walton bans charcoal, increases beach vendor fees – News – Panama City News Herald

A wave of new regulations was approved by commissioners.

SANTA ROSA BEACH — At a special meeting Monday, Walton County commissioners made additional changes to the county’s beach activities ordinances.

The changes, on the heels of a Dec. 12 discussion, include the following:

• banning charcoal grills on Walton County beaches

• increasing the annual fee for temporary service vendors, such as beach photographers, to $150 annually

• making it illegal to move vendor poles or lifeguard stands

• allowing 10-by-10-foot canopies on the northern third of the sandy beach

• setting future regulations for drones on the beach

• requiring permits for classes taught on the beach

• allowing beach bonfire permits only until 1 a.m.

Vendor rental chair storage will remain as it is, with a motion for total removal failing. The vote was 2-2 with District 3 Commissioner Melanie Nipper and District 4 Commissioner Sara Comander voting for total removal, and District 1 Commissioner Bill Chapman and District 5 Commissioner Tony Anderson voting against. District 2 Commissioner Cecilia Jones recused herself.

Food and beverage vending on public beach and beach-chair vending next to private property still are not allowed.

During the three-and-a-half hour meeting, commissioners heard from myriad citizens as well as those who work in vending businesses, with the most contentious item being the removal of beach chairs and umbrellas every night.

This past year saw a 30-percent increase in beach chair vendors on South Walton’s beaches because of increased demand.

“We saw fewer problems this past season, and the problems we saw were less than the year before, so, it’s getting better,” said Brian Kellenberger, director of beach operations for Walton County Tourist Development Council.

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