WAKULLA COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — A federal court in Tallahassee has ruled that City Walk Urban Mission can again operate in Wakulla County and can open up three other transition homes within the county.
Tuesday, the court approved a settlement between the organization and the county. The county agreed to settle the case for $160,000.
In addition to the $160,000 Wakulla County agreed to pay to settle, the county also agreed to allow City Walk to establish up to three other transition homes in the county. City Walk is required to notify Wakulla County when a new facility is being opened and/or closed.
The organization was barred from operating in the county after receiving citations for violation of Section 5 of the Land Development Code. Under that code, three or more people who are unrelated cannot live in the same home.
In May, City Walk sued Wakulla County to continue their ministry, which is open to registered sex offenders. Back then, attorneys with the law firm representing City Walk, Dalton & Tomich, told ABC 27 the housing of sex offenders is a right by law but, for some in the area, it's raising concerns.
"Because they are even open to registered sex offenders they've drawn the ire of some in the community, and unfortunately that's put City Walk in the position where they are faced with being shut down by the county through zoning enforcement," said attorney Noel Sterett back in May.
On July 9, a judge signed a preliminary order keeping all county officials from trying to prevent City Walk from housing up to six unrelated adults in its transition home.
"We wish it hadn’t taken a lawsuit to get the County to allow us to serve those in need," said City Walk Pastor Miller. "The tens of thousands of dollars that have been spent fighting for our ministry would’ve been better spent addressing the many needs in our community."
Since 2013, City Walk Urban Mission has operated their transition home ministry in Wakulla County.