Dodging the City

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The sign welcoming people to Panama City Beach is a bit misleading. The city limits actually start a couple miles down the road, something Nelson Miner, a member of the West End Stop Annexation Committee, is determined to uphold.

"The main reason is the management or lack of management style of Panama City Beach, and the fact they're allowing, and they think it's a good thing, to have high rise condos, a canyon of condos on the beach," says Miner.

The group has hired a lawyer and sent a letter to County Commissioner George Gainer encouraging the county to deny the city's request for a straw ballot.

Lee Himman, also a member of the committee, says a straw ballot is simply illegal.

"The Florida statute does not say step one is a straw ballot and they should have to adhere to the law," says Himman.

Richard Jackson, the manager for Panama City Beach, says they are adhering to the law. The city has to prepare a report about services already provided on the island and services required before any binding ballot is issued.

"You don't want to go out and spend money putting together a whole report for the entire island out here and then have the people be not interested in it," says Jackson.

However, WESAC is threatening a lawsuit if the county does approve the straw ballot. Lee Himman says all property owners need to be included in the vote, no matter where they live.

"If there's more than 70 percent of the people that live out of the property area, you have to have 50 percent of their approval," says Himman.

The city manager says they're focusing too much attention on something that might ring no interest after the straw ballot anyway, but members of the WESAC say it matters to them.