New Ordinance Could Fill Up Empty Lots

Beach council members have passed an ordinance they hope will clean-up some eyesores along the Panama City Beaches.

It involves vacant properties that were scheduled to be condo developments.

After the real estate bust and the recession hit in 2007, most developers abandoned the ambitious plans the city had already approved in the way of development orders.

Now that the orders are about to expire, some developers are asking for extensions.

Thursday, the council approved an ordinance that gives developers an incentive to build quickly.

If they request a two-year extension, the city will not substantially change their current development order.

However, if they request a three-year extension, they'll have to reduce the height and square footage of their development by 10 percent.

Similarly, A four-year extension would mean a 20 percent reduction.

If the developer fails to build in the allotted time, the city could slap a lien on the property.

"We found that this was something that helped facilitate those developments that made every effort that they could to build under tough times and basically allow them to continue to build under the old code," says Mario Gisbert, a representative of the council.

The new ordinance goes into effect immediately and developers will have 120 days to apply for an extension.

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