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Walton County Skydive Operator Doubts Zoning Win

The co-owner of a skydiving operation refuses to believe his 7-year zoning battle with Walton County is over -- even after a green light by the First District Court of Appeal. 

A Walton County spokesman says there are no immediate plans to challenge the ruling. But you have to forgive co-owner James Nipper for not believing his ordeal is over.

Since the legal war began, voters promoted Nipper’s attorney, Republican Matt Gaetz, from state Legislature to Congress. And Nipper’s wife and business partner, Melanie Nipper, has recently been elected to the County Commission.

Walton officials even refused to accept a ruling by their own Code Enforcement Board.

“My wife and I have had a rude awakening into the underhanded and dirty dealings of how our judicial system and government system works.”

A neighbor complained about noise and a circuit court ruled that skydiving was not permitted in a “Large Scale Agricultural District.” Gaetz told Nipper he will have to drop him as a client when he called to announce the favorable First DCA ruling.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.