Panama City Beach City Council talks height incentives, buildings near disrepair

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Buildings in bad shape in Panama City Beach are often addressed by the city's code enforcement, but city staff say some properties slip through the cracks.

Thursday, the Panama City Beach city council approved the first reading of a potential law making it easier for city staff to address properties starting to fall into disrepair.

City staff say they've noticed certain properties with the roofs separating from the rest of the home and broken windows.

We're told about 15 properties fit that description, but the city can't do anything about them until a building code is violated.

If adopted, the city could issue a ticket to the property owner if changes aren't made.

"It's a little difficult taking a call from a neighbor who is reporting on a structure next to them that is getting in disrepair," Mel Leonard, Director of Building and Planning said, "and for us to have to tell them there's nothing we can do about it until it gets worse."

At Tuesday's meeting, the council also approved the first reading of a potential law on height incentives.

Developers can ask to build higher when adding public benefits like beach accesses and public bathrooms.

The council asked city staff to look at those incentives for possible changes.

In the meantime, the city has temporarily stopped accepting height incentive applications.

"If the owner no longer, never creates the public restrooms, never creates the public beach access, doesn't do their Florida friendly landscaping. Then it's on the city's responsibility to have to go in," Leonard explained.

Leonard says the city has run into problems when developers don't live up to their end of the deal.