In a unanimous decision, the Destin City Council voted to move forward with drafting an ‘anchoring’ ordinance that will regulate commercial activity within the city’s bayous. Councilman Kevin Schmidt spearheaded the proposal during the city council meeting held on Tuesday, June 20, 2023.
- While the city has jurisdiction over Joe’s Bayou and Marler Bayou, they currently lack the necessary ordinance to enforce any restrictions on commercial activities in these waterways.
During the meeting, Councilman Schmidt explained that while the purpose of the proposed ordinance is to regulate commercial activity in these areas in general, the topic came up due to an inflatable bounce house operation setting up in the area.
According to complaints and social media posts, an inflatable bounce house and water slide is reportedly being set up near the Joe’s Bayou Recreation Area. Witnesses claim that people are being shuttled over from Crab Island or parking at Joe’s Bayou Recreation Area to use the inflatables. Commercial activity is not allowed at Joe’s Bayou Recreation Area.
- Additionally, inflatables have been reported behind the Destin Army Recreation Area off of Calhoun Ave.
“If it’s not in Joe’s Bayou, it’s in Choctawhatchee Bay. If it’s not in Choctawhatchee Bay, it’s in the Harbor,” added Schmidt. “Right now off of Indian Trail, there’s a massive barge parked 100 yards off of somebody’s backyard. Can we do anything about it? [Okaloosa] Sheriff’s Department says not really.”
He emphasized that the intent was not to hinder fishermen or any charter boat captains seeking safety, as they would be protected under a safe harbor provision.
- Once the draft is completed, it will be presented to the council at a future meeting for discussion and approval.
Additionally, the council voted to direct staff to work with other jurisdictions to find a solution to overnight commercial anchoring in areas just outside of the Destin’s waterways.