Building on the Beach

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It's a local mom and pop that is still going strong, but Dirk Langlotz, the owner of the Blue Horizon Christian Retreat on the west end of Panama City Beach, says sweeping changes to local land use and zoning could have hurt a rebuilding effort or the chance to sell.

Langlotz's resort now sits on a commercial zone across from a protected beach that cannot be developed.

"My request for this SR2 zoning destination is not setting a precedent. In fact, there are four properties north of Front Beach Road that are zoned right now SR2, two of them small than the Blue Horizon."

There was a mixed response about the zoning request, some not pleased to hear a condo could one day sit in their neighborhood, while other point out it clearly sits on a tourist corridor, not a neighborhood.

Patrice Couch says she is just against SR2 in general.

"The predominant use on the beach is residential, not tourists."

Business owner Phillip Griffitts was before this commission just a couple weeks ago asking for the same request, the commissioners approved his property for SR2.

"For those that want to preserve the neighborhood, I wish you'd ride back in the neighborhood and look at the trailers who still have their roofs blown off from Hurricane Opal."

After hearing from everyone, the commissioners voted 3 to 2 to approve the zoning request. Commissioners Mike Thomas, Mike Nelson and George Gainer all approved, while Commissioners Jerry Girvin and Bill Dozier voted against the request.

Thomas says he's known the Langlotz's forever and has always understood the business on the beach.

"This business has been a business forever and it's been in an area where tourism has been the predominant business in that area forever."

While Dozier says SR2 is reasonable, the height limit isn't.

"I feel comfortable with the seasonal resort, but what I have a hard time with is the height; the SR2, the 230 feet."

We need to point out Dirk Langlotz, the owner of the Front Beach Road property in question, is also married to Newschannel 7's morning and noon newscast anchor, Donna Bell.