PANAMA CITY BEACH-- Another Panama City Beach City Council meeting meant another heated discussion centered around spring break. Thursday afternoon the council held a special meeting at Arnold High School.
Next year you probably won't see funnels, beer pong, or alcohol of any kind on the sandy beaches, but what that means for the future of our community remains to be seen.
Things got hot and heavy at Thursday afternoon's Panama City Beach City Council meeting.
"You have something in common with North Korea, Syria, Iran, it's isolation. Everyone is distancing themselves from the domestic terrorism that you're committing here at Panama City Beach," said local attorney Wes Pittman.
"You compare us to North Korea, you are way out of line," said City Councilman John Reichard.
The controversy at the meeting surrounded the ordinance that bans alcohol on the sandy beaches during spring break. Many people claimed there was a loophole in that ordinance.
"There's all kinds of ways around this situation that we're really going nowhere. I think we're probably wasting our time with this guys," said Panama City Beach Mayoral Candidate, Joe Moore.
The city's ordinance had a provision that would allow businesses on the beach to petition the State Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco to extend their licensing premise to include the beach area behind them.
"The damage is done regardless because the alcohol ban has been reported all over the country. Why try to take the small slice that we are trying to keep? Their mission has been accomplished essentially they wanted to tone down the celebration with the steps taken already, asking for more tells me that they have no concern for our livelihood," said service industry worker Jacob Laster.
Councilman John Reichard made a motion to remove the loophole language from the ordinance and the rest of the council agreed, and it passed unanimously.
"It's just heartbreaking to see that we haven't as a community been able to come up with something better than just eliminating all of our guests," said Julie Hilton, local hotel owner.
The animosity between the two sides the city has split into was made clear at the meeting. Many locals called for a united community.
"I hate to see blue shirts vs. white shirts. The us vs. them, the enemy. It's not right. we're here because spring breakers crashed our town, committed violent crimes and bolted and we also had other comes here and act buck wild."
All the other spring break ordinances on the agenda passed as well, including one that cuts off alcohol sales at 2 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. during spring break and one that prohibits drinking in commercial parking lots. The city also passed ordinances banning balcony climbing and prohibiting parking in right of ways after dark. They also raised the civil penalties for open container violations.