FREEPORT, Fla. (WMBB) — Walton County code compliance officers have been at war with Freeport’s Horse Power Pavilion for about five years.
The owner opened the doors to a new bistro this weekend, but that has opened a new round of county actions.
Horse Power Pavilion Owner Kate Holland’s dream has come true and her bistro is now open.
“This is Hamilton, my eldest son, and we called it Hamilton’s Bistro, and I wanted them to come here and have a better life and realize how hard it is to achieve something good,” Holland said.
Hamilton is learning the lesson first-hand.
Ever since Holland and her family moved here from England in 2018 she said they’ve been in a running battle with Walton County officials.
“It’s like being on a merry-go-round, but on a rollercoaster at the same time,” Holland said. “It’s quite unique way to handle things, but I mean, we’re at the point now where I got my state permit, but the same day they issued a non-compliance order on me. They’re now harassing me for things that I already dealt with back in 2021 and I think it’s really just because I’m moving forward and getting the bistro open.”
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Last April, Holland’s attorney served Walton County with a lawsuit.
A federal court dismissed the lawsuit, but Holland said they plan to re-file in state court.
“And now I’m fighting not just for us, but for all the people that are going through the same thing that don’t have the strength to fight it because it’s just wrong,” Holland said. “You know, we’ve got so many homes here and nowhere to go. It shouldn’t be this hard to open a business, employ people and pay taxes. It’s just insanity.”
But it’s the little victories and community support that keep Holland and her family afloat.
“It’s the support of the community that keeps us going,” Holland said. “It’s a battle and I don’t think it’s anything to do with permits. There’s a lot of events going on around me that get totally different rules and regulations, and I don’t mind playing by the rules if we’re all playing from the same ones.”
They have a court date on February 15.
In the meantime, the Horse Power Pavilion and Hamilton’s Bistro remain open.
News 13 asked Walton County officials for their side of this story, but they said they don’t comment on pending lawsuits.