Is a developer entitled to a private driveway on other people’s land when he has legal access to US Highway 98? The neighbors say NO! The Kidd family, among the first settlers of Inlet Beach, asks for support to defend their land, at the Walton Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting July 23.
In February 2019, the Kidd family discovered that an unauthorized clear cut had been made across their two lots at Inlet Beach. The 20-foot-wide strip runs 300 feet from a neighboring property to Orange Street.
A realtor’s sign planted on the Kidd property announced the sale of Lot 173-3, belonging to the developer, Inlet Beach Capital Investments (IBCI). The online listing boasted of a “private secluded lot accessed via a reserved easement …down a picturesque entrance to the homesite.” It failed to say that the 6,000 square foot clearing doesn’t belong to Lot 173-3, that no easement has been authorized, and that the “secluded lot” has its own 80 feet of frontage on US Highway 98/State Road 30.
Served with a cease-and-desist letter, the realtor removed the sign and listing, but for the Kidd family, the fight to defend their property from trespass was just beginning.
The developer claims the right to use the cut because it lies in an old county right-of-way. However, only the County has the authority to open this right-of-way and only for public roadway and utilities. Since the County and neighborhood have had no interest in creating a new road, the Kidd family filed a petition in April 2019 for the BCC to abandon the right-of-way as the best remedy to stop further trespassing. The Inlet Dunes Homeowners Association, owning part of the right-of-way on the southern half, also filed so that two petitions could be heard together.
In an attempt to interrupt the joint petition process being brought to the Commissioners, the developer in June 2020 raised the stakes by submitting an application to take the entire 66-foot right-of-way for a 300-foot long “county road for one” to his lot. His new plan would severely compromise four neighboring parcels, owned and valued for decades by 24 families.
The developer objects to the abandonment petitions and wrote that he is “entitled” to use his neighbors’ land because this is “access which provides the greatest value to our property.” He has implied that Lot 173-3 is landlocked. However, it is not. According to the Florida Department of Transportation, Highway 98 is Lot 173-3’s only legal access and if the owner requests a curb cut there, it will be granted.
Since Lot 173-3 is not landlocked, the Kidd Family and Inlet Dunes condo owners are appealing to the commissioners to protect their property rights and abandon the right-of-way on July 23, 2020.
The Kidd Family is asking for letters of support to be sent to the BCC.
Their website http://workinginconcert.org/KiddFamilyInletBeach provides more information on the case.