Walton County Launches Virtual Public Comment Process for Public Meetings


The Walton County Board of County Commissioners has approved a process to allow members of the public who cannot attend a County public meeting in person the ability to provide virtual public comment.

This new process was instituted beginning with the August 10, 2021 regular meeting of the Walton County Board of County Commissioners. Following this meeting, this process may be refined and will be available for future meetings of the Board of County Commissioners, Planning Commission, Tourist Development Council, Design Review Board, Technical Review Committee and Zoning Board of Adjustments.

To virtually participate, members of the public will be required to submit a registration form request 24-hours prior to any meetings and are required to submit specific request on which agenda items they would like to comment on. Virtual public comment will not be authorized during Quasi-Judicial hearings.

The guidelines for participation are as follows:
Virtual Participants will need to register by completing a Public Comment Form by going to the County’s website at Virtual Public Comment Instructions. A separate registration will be required for each meeting. Registration must be completed at least twenty-four (24) hours before the start time for the scheduled meeting. Registration must include the agenda item(s) during which the participant wishes to speak. Virtual participants will be limited to five (5) items. Virtual participants will not be allowed to speak on any items for which they have not pre-registered except for the open public comment item at the end of the meeting.

Virtual Participants must log-in to the meeting at least fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled meeting start on the day of the scheduled Board of County Commissioners meeting to comment on items on the Consent and Regular Agenda of the meeting. Virtual Participants providing comments for items listed on the Public Hearing section of the Board of County Commissioners Agenda, or for any item listed on the Planning Commission agenda, must log-in to the meeting at least fifteen minutes before the scheduled start of the Public Hearing portion of the Agenda on the day of the scheduled meeting.

All Virtual Participants will be emailed a participation link and must utilize the link provided to participate. All participants must enable their cameras thus providing an active video connection. In addition, the connection name must be their legal name and the name submitted under the request. Audio only connections will not be recognized.
During the meeting, Virtual Participants will be notified by the Chairman, the Clerk, or a member of County staff, when they will be permitted to speak.

Virtual Participants are subject to the same time limits as in-person participants. Land use applicants with items on the regular Public Hearing agenda shall ensure that at least one person with authority to make binding commitments relating to the application is physically present at the meeting. Because any person can attend the meeting in person, Virtual Participants, when registering to participate virtually, assume the risk of any technology issues that may prevent their comments from being heard properly. If technology issues arise with Virtual Participants, the Board may elect to either disregard their comments, or continue the item until the technology issues have been resolved, or until the Virtual Participant(s) can attend the meeting in person.

Virtual Public Comment Registration Forms can be found in the Form Center on the County’s website at https://www.co.walton.fl.us/FormCenter.

As this is a new process for the County, the County reserves the right to update the process and/or forms to ensure that the program can run efficiently.

For further information, please contact the Office of Public Information at 850-892-8155 or email Walton County Public Information Manager, Louis Svehla, at pio@co.walton.fl.us.