Uprising

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

Bay County's current development boom is generating new issues for local governments and municipal planners. Condo developers have been asking for and receiving zoning changes that weren't meant for condos.

Condos are coming to Panama City, but city planners want the growth to be well planned.

During Monday's city planning commission meeting, two projects were granted a zoning change to allow for a mixed use of residential and commercial.

Planning Commissioner Paul Pritchard says this zoning request leaves a lot of loopholes.

"The general commercial designation is a very, very loose, extremely liberal designation. It allows things like unlimited height and lot-line to lot-line development, particularly no side spacing at all."

The "Millville Wharf" proposed for 6th and Maple includes a 14-story condo, and phase two includes a six-story condo on Watson Bayou.

Sean McNeil, the engineer for the developer, says they need the GC2 zoning to build residential condos on top of restaurants and other possible commercial businesses. McNeil says even though this developer does not plan to build all the way to the lot line, the regulations would allow it.

"Developers look at what the rules are and then they will build a development that is going to be within the constraints of those rules."

But if a developer has to pull out of a project and sell the land, Pritchard says the next developer will inherit a zoning regulation with few limitations.

"We could actually end up with a solid wall of buildings all the way down Business 98 and around the corner on Maple Street."

Panama City Mayor Gerry Clemons says time is up, and at the next commission meeting in two weeks they will discuss height and setback limits for the city.


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