Small Town News


Man detained for criminal mischief for damage to beach property markers

The DeFuniak Springs Herald of DeFuniak Springs, Florida

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A Missouri man was recently detained for misdemeanor criminal mischief after breaking chains and pulling up and damaging survey stakes and notrespass signs that some Fort Panic beachfront property owners had put in place to mark their property boundaries.

According to an Aug. 1 Walton County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) incident report, Fort Panic Road beachfront property owner Ed Goodwin and Santa Rosa Beach resident Neville Rowland told a deputy that they had seen the man break a PVC chain marking Goodwin's property boundary that morning. They said they had confronted the man, who walked away, refusing to stop. Goodwin and Rowland took pictures of the other man as he fled. Rowland also told the officer that at about 6:30 a.m. that day he had witnessed the man pulling up and breaking some survey stakes and no trespassing signs at another beachfront residence at 43 Fort Panic Road while walking westbound along the

The WCSO located and stopped the suspect at Ed Walline Regional Beach Access. He was identified as Jeffrey Scott Boone of Chesterfield, Mo. and was described as "cooperative and apologetic" after being detained.

The second property owner whose boundary markers had been removed and damaged, Terry Crofoot, was notified that Boone had been detained and agreed to accept $300 in restitution from Boone rather than pursuing criminal charges.

Goodwin also declined doing so but, along with Crofoot requested that Boone be warned against trespassing on his property. Due to the agreement among the parties involved, the case was closed.

On Aug. 1, Goodwin told the Herald/Breeze, "We just want our property rights protected." His wife Delanie Goodwin expressed appreciation for the quick response and professionalism of the deputies upon being contacted about the vandalism.

Ed Goodwin emphasized that people removing and/or damaging property markers and signs put up by beachfront property owners "are in violation of Florida Statutes and can receive severe charges." Penalties may include fines and/or imprisonment.

The use of "no trespassing" and "private beach" signs has increased on the Walton County beaches over the past few years. The marking of property boundaries on the beach is a newer phenonienon in the county.

Property owners who want to have> trespass laws enforced along the coastline of their beachfront properties are required by the WCSO to first conduct a survey of the property, in connection with which the Mean High Water Line (MHWL) is established. This MHWL is considered the boundary between state sovereignty land and upland private property. Based on the survey, the owners are required to mark their property boundaries.

According to WCSO standard operating procedures, criminal action for trespassing is not taken in connection with wet sand areas, areas seaward of the mean high tide or, for renourished beach areas, areas seaward of the Erosion Control Line (ECL).

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which has purview over structures, including signs, seaward of the Coastal Construction Control Line, does not restrict monopole signs. Signs with more than one pole do require a DEP permit. In order to use ropes or chains to mark their property, owners are required to consult with DEP to determine whether a permit would be required.

Copyright 2015 The DeFuniak Springs Herald, DeFuniak Springs, Florida. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: August 13, 2015

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