DESTIN — A majority of the City Council recently approved a lawsuit settlement agreement with local businessman Dewey Destin.
The agreement resolves an almost two-year court battle between both parties that centered on an easement/public access road at the planned Capt. Royal Melvin Heritage Park and Plaza.
The 0.77-acre park site is at 206 Harbor Blvd. with Dewey Destin’s Harborside Restaurant to the west, Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer and the Destin Fishing Fleet Marina to the east, Destin Harbor to the south and U.S. Highway 98 to the north.
Destin and his company, BI Inc., sued the city in October 2016 after the city fenced off the easement that his employees and other workers used to get to the harbor. The city placed the fence to move forward with building the park.
According to the settlement agreement, BI Inc. and Dewey Destin Harborside LLC shall quit claim their rights to access the easement as long as the city complies with a long list of conditions.
In August 2017, Destin and other investors bought a parcel on the west side of his restaurant in order to have access to the harbor. Besides a driveway to the waterfront, the parcel includes a private marina with parking, storage, retail operations and a residential structure used for commercial purposes.
Among other items in the settlement agreement, the city agrees to: reduce the number of required parking spaces for this parcel in exchange for saving 23 heritage live oaks on the property; acknowledge that improvements and uses of the new driveway comply with city rules; allow the construction of ADA-compliant restrooms under the attached carport of the residential structure; allow the use of the residential structure for commercial storage; and allow the construction and use of decks on the parcel for marina and restaurant uses.
The council discussed the settlement agreement during a closed executive session last Wednesday. At the regular council meeting that followed, it voted 5-1 to approve the agreement.
Councilman Rodney Braden cast the lone “no” vote. He said he had been ready to approve an earlier agreement that contained far fewer conditions required of the city.
Councilman Parker Destin, whose father is Dewey Destin, abstained from voting on the final agreement.
City officials still are working with Okaloosa County officials to obtain $1.2 million worth of RESTORE Act money to develop Capt. Royal Melvin Heritage Park and Plaza, city spokesman Doug Rainer said on Monday.
“We are still looking at design options for the project,” Rainer said.