DESTIN — In a 6-1 vote, the City Council on Monday approved a resolution that calls for Okaloosa County to regulate and/or prohibit the distribution of alcohol by Crab Island businesses.
The resolution, which will immediately be sent to the County Commission for its consideration, also calls for an eventual ban on overnight mooring by floating structures/vessels at the submerged island. A handful of businesses are set up there on various types of floating structures.
Destin officials often have cited spikes in marine violations and other problems during their discussions of curbing Crab Island’s commercial activities.
The proposed crackdown needs the commission’s approval because the island is in the unincorporated part of the county.
With the commission’s approval, regulations or a prohibition on the distribution of alcohol by Crab Island businesses likely would take effect immediately. The ban on overnight mooring could take effect after a one-year notice is issued to the public.
Councilman Cyron Marler, who unsuccessfully tried to get the resolution discussion moved to a future meeting, cast the lone “no” vote. Mayor Gary Jarvis, who does not have general voting power on the council, was absent from Monday’s meeting.
Most council members agreed with Councilman and local restaurateur Chatham Morgan’s effort to notify the state Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco about the unlicensed distribution of alcohol by some Crab Island businesses.
For example, some businesses sell virgin daiquiris and give away the accompanying alcohol.
The Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco is part of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
“My biggest issue is (some island business owners) say they don’t sell alcohol, but they certainly do serve alcohol,” Morgan said. “I just want them to be held to the same standards that (apply to) every land-based business in the state of Florida.”
No island business owner commented at the meeting.
Following the session, County Commission Chairman Graham Fountain tweeted, “Well, now it will be up to us on the County Commission” to decide whether to approve the proposed regulations. “Evaluate all options in order to provide a clean, safe, and wholesome place to play at Crab Island, while balancing the spirit of free enterprise we feel so important. Going to be a tough process ... much homework to be done.”