South Walton informs locals about ways to be involved in development

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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Walton County is one of the fastest growing counties in the country and they're striving to keep that pace up.

"Anybody who lives down here or visits here has experienced the dramatic growth over the past three to five years. Increased traffic, increased construction," said South Walton Community Council Board Member John Reichenbach.

But many locals are concerned about the direction of that growth. Wednesday, the South Walton Community Council held a meeting to teach locals about its comprehensive plan, land development codes and overall design process.

"The more you're involved, the better the community," said Reichenbach.

Reichenbach added that new development in the county has been geared toward second homeowners, investment owners and part-time residents.

"We think for so long development has occurred without the input of the local citizens," said Reichenbach.

During the meeting, Tallahassee-based organization 1000 Friends of Florida gave a "Citizens Bill of Rights" presentation which included policies where locals get a say in local development such as a participation plan.

"We believe that when landowners propose major change to communities, they should come meet with the communities to know what the local concerns are and to give folks an idea of what's coming down the pipeline," said 1000 Friends of Florida Director of Policy and Planning Thomas Hawkins.

Representatives with 1000 Friends of Florida shared information about a recent house bill which could limit locals involvement with comprehensive plans if signed by Governor Ron DeSantis.

The council is working to provide more ways for people in Walton County to learn how to get involved with new development.