Code complaint shuts down small business

Violating the Santa Rosa County zoning code can come back to bite you. No one knows that better than Milton resident Joshua Pittman, who as of Thursday night, June 23, had to shut down his business and sole source of income.

Some 20 years ago when the Pittman’s first moved to the 4 acre plat at 6443 Waylon Drive, there was only a dirt road with very few houses surrounded on all sides by Blackwater State Forest.

Pittman grew up on the property with his retired mother and father, and after working seven years for Weis Recycling, he decided to start scrapping in his free time.

The hobby grew into a business, and after getting the proper licensing from the state, Pittman Recycling became his full time occupation. But the one-man business missed a crucial step in the process.

Pittman never applied for the required conditional use for his property or built the housing and privacy fence the Santa Rosa County development code mandates. So when a compliance complaint was filed, Pittman was found in violation of the land code.

“When I was questioned I was upfront with them that yes I do run a business out here,” Pittman said. “They told me I was in violation.”

County Planning Director Beckie Cato said that this lack of knowledge is all too common.

“Most people understand that all property in the county is zoned, and that there are rules about how a property can be used,” she said. “It is becoming less common, but mistakes do still happen. He assumed that because it was zoned agriculture he could do what he wanted to do.”

Pittman said he’s surprised it’s an issue in an area zoned agricultural land. Agricultural zones allow for residences as well as farming and with the right paperwork and approval conditional uses for trade services.

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PIttman Recycling's workbenches stand empty. A $300 fine can be levied daily if work continues at the business' current location.

Pittman Recycling’s workbenches stand empty. A $300 fine can be levied daily if work continues at the business’ current location.

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