Beach Airport

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Panama City Beach officials have an opportunity to take over the proposed airport relocation project. Thursday night the beach city council met to discuss its role in a new airport for Bay County.

Our story Wednesday night caused a stir for beach and county residents alike. Bay County Commissioner George Gainer says there's no way the county is going to give up the airport.

"I think Lee Sullivan should be careful what he wishes for, and neither the city nor the county are going to give up control of that airport."

But according to a 1989 provision to Florida state law they don't have to give anything up. Panama City Beach can develop an airport all on its own. The current proposed site for a new airport is within 12 miles of the Panama City Beach city limit.

State law says the beach can build an airport and an industrial park in the West Bay sector without having to annex the property connecting the site to the city, but airport board member Jim Smallwood says the beach has nothing to do with relocating the airport.

"It's a lot of talk about nothing no city and no county have any say in what happens to the airport. The FAA and the airport board are the only to entities involved in moving the airport."

Both Gainer and Smallwood say the writing is on the wall, and despite the outcome of Tuesday's vote, the airport will be relocated to the West Bay area. However, with two members of the airport board up for re-appointment this year, there could be a shake-up in the future and the property owner of the Saint Joe Company could decide going with Panama City Beach is less of a headache.