Bay County Back to Drawing Board for West End Land Regulations

By: Courtney Hayes
By: Courtney Hayes

Neither developers nor property owners have been happy with the building height restrictions proposed for the west end of the beaches, so Bay County Commissioners went back to the drawing board to come up with a new plan, and once again they found themselves defending their decisions.

Developers and property owners say they've become the victims of dirty politics. They say their property values have gone down drastically with just one vote by the county commission. Some commissioners say they're just looking out for the best interest of the county's future.

Commissioners went into the public hearing trying to rectify their unanimous approval of a land use proposal a few weeks ago. That plan would have zoned property north of Front Beach Road, as commercial, limiting new buildings heights to 50 feet. That brought close to 200 developers and property owners out for Tuesday's this public hearing, each hoping to change commissioners’ minds on the issue, which they say will devalue their property.

Only two got what they came for. Beach Property owner Charley Lahan was one of the lucky ones. He threatened to seek annexation into Panama City Beach if Commissioners didn't change his property which sits across from the beach to seasonal resort.

"I'll be honest. I have a contract on my Carousel property and plan to rebuild the entire site. I need the land to be seasonal resort so I can get the deal done," says Charlie Lahan.

After Commissioners Mike Ropa, George Gainer, and Cornel Brock voted to change Lahan's property to seasonal resort, dozens of other affected property owners requested the same, but Commissioner Mike Ropa seemed to revert back to his previous stance, leaving hundreds of developers and property owners with commercially zoned land.

Commissioner George Gainer seemed disturbed by the circumstances, saying everyone should get an equal chance to maximize their property value.

Commissioner Jerry Girvin says he voted against seasonal resort, not because he's against growth, but because it would only allow growth on the Front Beach Road, he says commercial would allow for growth beyond that area.


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