Volusia judge does not rule on beach driving

Judge Sandra Upshaw listened to arguments from a group that wants to preserve all driving on the county's beaches but did not make a ruling. The hearing was called by the defendants in the case, Volusia County.

They were seeking to have the judge throw out the case and not allow it to be re-filed. At dispute is whether or not Volusia County has the power to ban beach driving on a stretch of beach in front of two new hotels, the Westin and the Hard Rock Hotel. County Attorney Ken Eckert says the county is well within their power to ban driving in front of those hotels, and asked the judge to throw the case out.

"What he's asking the courts to do is to second guess a statutorily authorized decision."

Plaintiff's Attorney David Vukelja says beach driving changes have certain standards that have to met and Council cannot just change them without a substantial public benefit, not just the benefit of a developer.

"This is a right that's been long recognized by the courts of Florida, including the Supreme Court of Florida. So this isn't a matter of just conveniently disposing of this little benefit or that little benefit. This is a right that is complicit to this community and has been legally recognized as such for a long time."

When Judge Upchurch told them she would not make a ruling today, she told the lawyers she had a lot of case law to read, and jokingly thanked them for giving her so much work to do over the holidays.