Rezoning Battle

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It's hard to find an open piece of land on the Gulf side of Thomas Drive these days. That's why developers are asking Bay County commissioners to rezone property on the north side of the street to allow for condominiums. The plans aren't sitting well with residents living nearby.

The precedent may already be set. Late last year, Bay County commissioners rezoned property on the north side of Thomas Drive to Seasonal Resort 2.

A high-rise condo will soon replace this RV park. Now three separate rezoning applications sit on commissioners' desks, potentially opening the door to 10-story condos in this neighborhood across the street from the Gulf.

"The SR2 has been on the other side of Thomas Drive, which is fine. Condos there are ok. Thomas Drive and Grand Lagoon has protected our community. We don't want high-rise because our neighborhood would be in a shadow," says Judy Davis, South Lagoon Drive resident.

Davis' South Lagoon home sits two blocks away from one of the sites up for a rezoning change. She and close to 100 other residents in this community are now banning together to stop all three proposals.

"I think they need to listen to the voice of the people that elected them," says Al Bilelo.

County Planning Department officials say they already compromised with residents by enforcing a 10-story limit for any SR2 zoned property on the north side of Thomas Drive.

Development on the Gulf side allows for a 23-story height limit. Residents in this neighborhood say that's not enough.

"We're making ourselves known because if we don't they're opening the door for condominiums all the way to the Grand Lagoon," says Davis.

The residents are now signing a petition in opposition of any SR2 zoning on their side of the street.

The county's planning commission has recommended that the commission approve SR2 zoning proposals for properties on Sabine and Thomas Drive, as well as Silver Sands and Utes Streets.

The planning commission denied the Raven and Courts Street proposal. Commissioners will take up all three rezoning proposals on February 15 and March 1.