WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — An ongoing battle between a Freeport business owner and Walton County continued on Wednesday.
The county called Horse Power Pavilion for another hearing at the South Walton Courthouse Annex.
It was around three hours of back and forth between the county and Horse Power Pavilion and approval for the business’ bar and stage area is still at a standstill.
Owner, Kate Holland, said she feels like she’s on a merry-go-round.
“I feel like I’ve let the community down but we’re going to do everything in our power to get the community back out there.”
Back when COVID-19 hit, Holland said she asked the county what she could do to adjust her business plan. She said the county suggested she move her business outside. Walton County Planning Director, Mac Carpenter, said that conversation never happened.
“What we have done during the COVID crisis is allowed existing restaurants that were in business to extend their seating area outside to provide for the social distancing distance prescribed by the CDC and our state health department,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said Holland never opened which means those rules don’t apply to her.
“She never pulled the first building permit to do the interior remodel necessary to demonstrate that, that restaurant could operate and support the liquor license that was approved at that restaurant,” Carpenter said.
The county said the zoning board granted Holland’s property a commercial variance to operate only as a wedding venue. They also said her pole bar was only approved to be a children’s play area. Holland said that isn’t true.
“We were on the front page of the paper doing events, car shows, pumpkin patches we have homeschool out there we’ve always done that,” Holland said. “This is not true.”
County officials also said Holland’s stage and bar area constructed out of shipping containers need a separate building permit and needs to be inspected by an engineer.
Holland said her engineer has submitted their inspection and adds the proposal is in the permits which was submitted last Friday.
County officials said in order for Holland to be able to use her bar and stage area, she must get a land use change.
The magistrate did not allow for public comment at tonight’s meeting.