Tuesday night the people of Southport exercised the democratic process to decide if they wanted to incorporate. The majority decided city life wasn't for them. So what's next?
The votes are counted. The decision is made. The city of Southport is not in the cards, at least not this year.
During the campaign for incorporation, supporters tried to gain votes on the issue of annexation. They said Lynn Haven could take over property, literally annexing away their home. But that argument didn't hold water for some voters.
Jimmy Sheffield, not worried about Lynn Haven, said, "They tried to get 22 acres down here on Grassy Point and the county commissioners stopped 'em."
But some anticipate Lynn Haven and others could try to annex Southport land in the future.
Jerry Girvin, Bay County Commissioner, said, "There will be continuing moves by every city to annex north, that's about the only unincorporated part of the county, so I would anticipate that yes there will be moves probably by Lynn Haven and by other cities that may be moving northward."
And just because someone voted against Southport incorporation Tuesday doesn't mean they're against incorporation in the future.
Leonard Harris, an incorporation opponent, said, "At some point in time, when it can be done properly, Southport will become a city at some time. But we want it done where it won't be on the citizens' back, but on the big dollar people."
Ken Kyser, Jr., another incorporation opponent, added, "I think now it's time to put this behind us and go back to being neighbors and being kind to one another again, 'cuz it's definitely caused some wounds."
The first time the Southport incorporation issue came up was a non-binding straw poll in 1999. Oddly enough, the results votes were very similar; 920 people voted against incorporation at that time and 607 voted yes.
Tuesday night 1009 voted against it and 640 voted yes.
Before this issue could go on the ballot again, the Legislature would have to approve the election just like it did this spring.