Short term ordinance changes in Walton Co. after ‘Monster Houses’

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WALTON COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — Walton has a problem with ‘Monster Houses,’ and it has nothing to do with Halloween.

“Monster house means large-scale vacation rental,” said Planning and Development Manager Kristen Shell. 

Some of these houses are sleeping large amounts of visitors. The large crowds bring excess trash, limited parking, and noise complaints.

“The current ordinance does not establish a straight-up maximum on what your site and building can accommodate,” said Shell.

After residents brought these concerns to county commissioners earlier this year, they suggested planning officials rework the current short-term rental ordinance. Which they have, now they are gaining public opinion.

“We’ve started with a lot of research looking at other communities and even looking nationally, and looking at what our neighbors are doing,” said Shell.

Shell and her staff have come up with a skeleton ordinance. After the public workshops, they will make modifications to bring to the planning commission.

“Our visitors know what the parking requirements are and they know where they are supposed to bring their vehicles and they know how many vehicles they are supposed to bring,” she said. 

Under the proposed ordinance, any new construction would have limits on the number of occupants and vehicles.

“It takes people to enforce and to manage,” said Shell. “That’s something that’s going to have to be presented along with the ordinance and the staffing issues addressed prior to any implementation.”

The final public workshop is October 21 at 6 p.m, then the planning commission votes. Once they approve it, the ordinance will go before the county commission.

“We are at least three public hearings away from being finalized,” said Shell.

Two county commissioners were in attendance at Thursday’s public workshop. If restrictions will be put on short-term rentals, they recognize some revenue might be lost but their concern is for the safety of residents and visitors.

To read more about the proposed short-term ordinance visit the county planning website.

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