Lawyers for the homeowner’s association had originally notified the county it would seek sanctions against its attorneys unless the county agreed to drop Edgewater from its customary use lawsuit by July 5. However, the attorneys granted an extension to allow county commissioners to discuss the threatened action in a closed meeting July 10.

SANTA ROSA BEACH — Edgewater Beach Owners Association members have made good on their threat to seek attorney’s fees from the Walton County lawyers who are working to have the beach behind their South Walton condominium complex declared public by virtue of customary use.

Their rationale is simple.

In 2009, in an order drawn up to resolve a legal dispute between Edgewater and the county over the condominium's right to maintain a volleyball net on the beach behind its building, Judge Howard LaPorte signed an agreement stating Walton County's governing body recognized the condominium’s coastal property as private and agreed it had “historically at all times been for the exclusive use of Edgewater’s owners and guests.”

The homeowner’s association maintains in a court motion filed July 12 that it is owed legal fees because when the county's attorneys filed legal action in December to declare Walton's 26 miles of coastline to be public, they knew, or should have known, what LaPorte had spelled out in his 2009 order.

By attempting now to have the beach designated as public through customary use amounts to “knowingly seeking a judicial declaration to which they are not entitled,” the motion said.

“The county’s claim is barred ... as this issue has already been decided by the court,” the claim for attorney’s fees states.

Homeowner’s association members, represented by the Guilday Law firm, also argue that the county can't possibly argue in favor of customary use — that Walton County’s beaches have been historically accessed by the public “without interruption and free from dispute" — when Edgewater holds a court order that clearly states otherwise.

“The county initiated this action in an attempt to prove recreational customary use on Edgewater’s beach, despite clear language (in the 2009 order) that the county does not dispute that Edgewater is the ‘exclusive, fee simple absolute owner of the private beachfront property,” the motion for attorney's fees says.

Lawyers for the homeowner’s association had originally notified the county it would seek sanctions against its attorneys unless the county agreed to drop Edgewater from its customary use lawsuit by July 5. However, the attorneys granted an extension to allow county commissioners to discuss the threatened action in a closed meeting July 10.

In an email sent to the Guilday law office following the executive session meeting, Walton County customary use attorney David Theriaque notified William Sickler, the counsel for Edgewater, that county commissioners had not instructed him to dismiss the Edgewater Beach Homeowner's Association from the customary use lawsuit.