Since announcing our Good Neighbor Customary Use initiative, many have brought forth concerns, questions, criticisms, and even accusations. We fully expected some, but some of the accusations were a bit of surprise…which is fine. We definitely welcome opportunities to clarify our intentions, as we seek to be fully transparent in our dealings.

Given some of the underhanded strategies used by many in the public forums these days, it is perfectly understandable to not be trusting of anyone who may offer potential alternatives. We realize that the customary use debate has become extremely heated, and an awful lot of emotions follow it. That is one of the motivators behind this initiative. We honestly would like to see those emotions diffused.

While names have been redacted, below you’ll find many of the statements, questions, accusations, and concerns brought forth via various online plaftorms…some will be copy and pasted, while other responses will speak to inferences made:

 

Oh, these are just beachfront property owners being sneaky… “wolves in sheep’s clothing”:

Not at all, as a matter of fact, no board member of PSW, INC. even lives South of HWY 98. One of us does own property on Scenic 30a and Scenic Gulf Drive, but neither are beachfront. No political candidate, past or present, is affiliated with our organization, and no beachfront property owners are currently involved in our organization. Other than seeing him on television, we do not know Mike Huckabee on a personal or professional level, and he is most definitely not affiliated, associated, or otherwise attached to anything we do or seek to do here at PSW, INC.

The idea for our initiative comes from a true desire to promote harmony among our neighbors.

 

“The only thing this group is preserving is their own legacy of being the people who tried to take away customary use.”

We have no desire to take away customary use, nor do we have a desire to take away an individual’s lawful use of their own property. We are only attempting to mediate an alternative solution to this situation….from the middle.

Our founding mission is to promote responsible land use and business growth. The Good Neighbor Initiative is only one program of many others we will be enacting. Other initiatives currently being discussed are a competitive swim complex, the procurement of forest lands and wetlands for preservation/conservation, youth education platforms, and many others. We believe we can make a difference in our community by promoting responsible use of the area while also working in concert with those who need and want to make a living. We also believe that expecting county government to specialize in every facet of what is required to do such things is unrealistic.

 

These are people who just want to take my land rights away:

Not at all. We want to promote a true compromise. While quite ambitious, our goal is to actually purchase beach properties and open the beach areas up for responsible public use. We are a nonprofit and are an apolitical organization. While everyone at PSW, INC has a personal opinion on the matter, they in no way impact this initiative.

 

Why are you wanting to promote compromise rather than choosing a side and fighting:

The biggest dog we have in this fight…if we can use that analogy…is the harmony of our community. Realistically, we believe that there is no scenario in which a court battle concludes in a positive way for everyone involved. There has to be a winner and a loser. So, regardless of who wins, we as a community lose. Millions of wasted dollars will be spent which equates to either an increase in taxes, or a loss of resources for other necessary government expenditures. If the landowners win, they maintain full control of the sand, and the financial costs of the court battle still loom. If they don’t, then we get unfettered access to the beach, the beachfront properties lose, and yet, those costs still remain.

 

I gotta hand it to our new Compromising good neighbors, Preserving South Walton…hey, nice logo! I just have to ask though, is the fence halfway down or halfway up?

First of all, thanks. We like it too. The fence is actually both halfway up AND halfway down. It represents our bigger mission of promoting a harmonious balance between responsible land preservation and business growth in South Walton County. The Good Neighbor Customary Use Initiative is only one facet of our overall mission, but the halfway principle still applies.

 

Any groups that propose such need to reveal who is behind them. Greed has no place when it comes to our beaches.

There isn’t anything covert, underhanded, or otherwise going on with our organization. Our founding documents are public record with the State of Florida and list our founders/board members, but for your convenience, we’ll list them below. As mentioned above, there is no one else “behind” our organization, we do not have any affiliations with any political candidates, nor do we have any affiliations with any beach owners.

We are not acting out of greed…which is why we are a 501(3)c nonprofit organization. As a matter of fact, our founding was not motivated by the customary use at all. (see press release correction here)  It is our desire to promote responsible land development and conservation throughout the entire South Walton County area.

That is our purpose in it’s entirety. We are not insiders in any particular click or group, but we are locals who care. We are regular folks, with families, who felt we could make a difference in how our neighbors interact and prosper, how development occurs, and how our county grows. Our ultimate goal is to enrich everyone’s lives through our efforts…not just a select handful.

 

Our Board of Directors:

  • President and Executive Director, Wes Herndon: Wes owns a web marketing and web design firm in Santa Rosa Beach, and he and his family have lived in South Walton for 9 years. He is a father, musician, and a co-host of a silly little show that airs on 30a Television every Friday called Nothing Scripted.
  • Vice President and Asst. Executive Director, Steve Burnett: Steven Burnett is an area native who has lived his entire life on the beaches of the Emerald Coast. He is co-owner of Gulf Coast Go, is married with five kids, and loves to reminisce about how things “used to be” down here. He is also active in the real estate market.
  • Director and Secretary, Collin Burnett: Collin is Steve’s oldest son and a college student. He brings a younger perspective on issues surrounding our community to our organization.

 

In closing, we here at PSW, INC. have no nefarious purpose for enacting our Good Neighbor Initiative. We are regular people, living in South Walton, who just want to get along with our neighbors…and would prefer to see them getting along with one another. This county doesn’t belong to a government, or a select group. It belongs to each of us, and we feel that promoting harmony serves us much better than promoting angst and hate.

We are also an open book, so if you have questions, concerns, critiques, or even kudos, please feel free to contact us via email at mailto: info@preservingsouthwalton.org