A Step Not Taken

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Panama City will not be stepping on the toes of Panama City Beach, at least for now. The developer for the Holiday Lodge Property on the west side of the Hathaway Bridge requested annexation into Panama City.

In a three to two decision Tuesday, the City Commission rejected the request to annex the property on the west side of the Hathaway Bridge.

City Commissioner Bob Barner says crossing the bridge is out of the question.

"I'm certainly in favor of having one city on the beach from bridge-to-bridge to bridge to Westbay."

The Bay County Commission also rejected the request earlier in the day, making way for a battle, but in the end the city agreed. Commissioners talked about this particular annex setting an unattainable precedent because the city is unable to provide services across the bridge.

County Commissioner Jerry Girvin says the consequences need to be clearly understood about this issue.

"I feel we got to draw the line in the sand somewhere and say ok, this is county."

Commissioner John Newberry agreed with Girvin, saying this wasn't a precedent worth setting.

"Once you get across that body of water, if you're annexed over there then the next annex and the next annex as long as it's contiguous and the service is provided, then it doesn't give us any leeway to contest it on a statutory basis."

Commissioner George Gainer had the only dissenting vote Tuesday, saying he approved of the annex. Gainer says it's inappropriate for the county to oppose the annexation because it allowed Lynn Haven to cross water and annex property years ago.

"It shouldn't be to anyone's advantage to annex into a city, but I personally don't want to get in the middle of Panama City and this annex, especially when we've done the same thing across the Bailey Bridge."

At least for now, the fight to cross the bridge will be avoided for the two cities on either side.