Bay Co. Public Forum on Spring Break

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BAY COUNTY-- Bay County commissioners are hoping public input will help them decide on spring break restrictions.

Law enforcement leaders shared their suggestions on how to control the area's wild crowds last month.

Residents will get their turn during Tuesday's meeting.

Panama City Beach's spring break behavior hasn't changed much the past few years.

What changed this year was the amount of national negative exposure Panama City Beach received and the amount of local outrage.

Bay County Commissioner Mike Thomas explains, "It didn't just happen this year, but by being in the public so much this year."

Thomas says he doesn't like a lot of what he sees during his nightly drives down the beach.

"I think there needs to be some changes," he says, "And they need to be done immediately so we've got time to explain to our future tourists the things that were changed."

Tuesday afternoon, county commissioners are opening the floor for public input.

Bay County Commissioner Guy Tunnell explains, "Hopefully so that our board can get a more first-hand impression of the folks that have been out there have been dealing with."

Unlike Thomas, Tunnell wants commissioners to careful weight and consider the suggestions they hear Tuesday for several months before making any decisions, saying, "Personally I'd like to be very careful that we don't infringe on anyone's rights."

Thomas is backing proposals that would ban open containers of alcohol on the beach, change closing times for bars from 4am to 2am, and he also wants to consider more parking restrictions.

Thomas adds, "My job as a county commissioner is to look at the whole county, not entertain businesses or 10 or 15 businesses, but the property values of the rest of the county, and how it affects that and I believe there is a big effect on that."

Tuesday's spring break public meeting will take place at the County Government Center at 1:30pm, following the regularly scheduled Bay County Commission meeting at 9am