Making Plans

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The plan to move the Bay County International Airport is not finalized just yet.

But local leaders are already speaking about what they would like to see take its place in Panama City.

The airport property spans 700 acres of what some say is a major opportunity for development.

The airport authority has asked the consulting firm PBS and J to determine the best possible use for the property, if indeed the airport is relocated.

The executive director of the airport, Randy Curtis, is on the authority. He says the funding they get from selling the airport property will directly affect the money for a new airport. "If the airport is relocated and this property would be available for some type of redevelopment. We want to make sure it's done where it's a great asset to the community and would receive the greatest benefit to the public."

Thursday afternoon several leaders in the community met with the consulting company to voice their opinions about what they'd like to see in the area.

The group made a list of dos and don'ts for potential developers.

Carey Scott, with the city of Panama City, talked about a community that was all inclusive. "You're going to have recreational facilities coupled with some sort of village atmosphere probably located away from the community corridor."

Jeff Brown, also with the city, talked about his concern about the soaring cost of living in the area. "I think that the cost of housing has gone up in Bay County. I think we need to make sure some of this is affordable."

They all agreed a varying mix of residential along with commercial use would best fit the area that is currently zoned for light industrial.

The plan will help the airport authority work with the city of Panama City so they can set the proper land use regulations.

County commissioner, Bill Dozier, says the group effort is good when discussing any sort of large scale changes to the area. "If the airport goes through and if the airport is built up there. They need to plan ahead for what they are going to do with this property."

But the airport needs to be relocated before anything can happen.

There are two more workshops to discuss possible uses for the area.

The next one is March 1 for local business people.

The general public can attend the second one set for March 3.