Today (October 22, 2019) at 1:30pm, the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners will hold a workshop to discuss the status of of the Floating Structures Ordinance for Crab Island.
Some quick background:
- At the July 10, 2018 Board meeting, the Board of County Commissioners adopted an ordinance regulating floating structures and the waterborne sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages.
- Upon adoption of the ordinance, the Board requested a citizens committee be formed to review the ordinance to see if any changes were necessary to make it more effective.
- The Board approved the formation and composition of the committee at the February 19, 2019 meeting.
There was then the formation of a Citizens Committee to review the regulations to see if they could be enhanced. Members of the Committee included:
- City of Destin: Councilman Rodney Braden
- Destin Chamber of Commerce: Dion Moniz
- Fort Walton: Chamber of Commerce: Vincent W. Mayfield
- Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council: Kenneth Wampler
- Livery Service: John Duplantis
- Vendor: Karen Perkins
- Recreational User: Mike Buckingham
This year the Gulf Islands National Seashore started requiring commercial use agreements for all businesses who are vending on Crab Island to gather information as it relates to the commercial use activity on Crab Island.
- They have issued twenty-six (26) permits to vendors this calendar year.
- Included in the list of vendors are twelve (12) floating structures which are regulated by the County’s ordinance.
- The floating structures were issued permits by the County to either operate for several months or for the season which ends on October 31, 2019.
- Starting in 2020 the floating structures are prohibited from staying on Crab Island overnight.
The Floating Structures Committee has met since April of this year and is recommending the following changes to the ordinance:
Increase fee structure for Floating Structures and impose a fee on all vessels that engage in commercial activity in the Crab Island Entertainment Area. This increased fee structure will include that the businesses pay a percentage of its monthly revenue which will require the development of audit and records review requirements for these businesses.
Limit vessels and floating structures operating within the Crab Island Entertainment Area to only 15 licenses per year. A mechanism will still need to be developed to regulate the manner that these licenses are granted.
Propellers of all vessels and floating structures shall be equipped with cages.
Vessels or floating structures operating in Crab Island Entertainment Area must pick up passengers from a properly permitted and licensed private commercial facility.
All floating structures will be banned effective January 1, 2021.
The following local agencies have endorsed the recommendations of the Floating Structures Committee:
- Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council
- City of Destin
- Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce
- Destin Area Chamber of Commerce