Bay County may have said no to relocating the airport, but Panama City Beach residents overwhelmingly said yes by a three to one margin.
That gives beach officials good ammunition in a possible fight to take the project away from the other local governments.
According to a 1989 provision to Florida state law, the city of Panama City Beach can build an airport miles outside its city limits.
Voters on the beach spoke Tuesday. They want a new airport.
Wednesday, Panama City Beach Mayor, Lee Sullivan, says that can happen with or without the blessing of the county.
“It’s nice we can do this and sort of play connect the dots.”
Mayor Sullivan is talking about chapter 89-490. It says the city of Panama City Beach is authorized to plan, acquire, and develop industrial development facilities within 12 miles of the city limits.
An airport falls under the state’s definition of an industrial facility, so Panama City Beach officials can go after the airport project in West Bay and not have to annex anything.
“We’ll go after the parcel so we don’t have to make people part of the city if they don’t want to be.”
Other Beach officials say the idea merits discussion.
“We’d have to get the okay with the property owner, but we’d definitely go after it if asked.”
Mayor Sullivan says he has not talked with anyone from the Saint Joe Company about the Beach spear-heading a new airport. He says no matter what entity, whether it be the Beach or Bay County, eventually a new airport will benefit everyone.
The airport vote came out 55-percent to 45-percent against relocation. However, about 76-percent of beach voters approved the move.