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Panama City leaders hope workshop will lead to cleaning up the city

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 10:34 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The definition of “temporary” was Thursday night’s leading debate at the city of Panama City workshop at the Bay County Government Center.

“I just think it’s important as a citizen to know what we’re doing here,” longtime Panama City resident Robbie Hughes said.

Hughes attended the workshop to learn more on the new Nuisance Abatement Ordinance.

“We need to clean up Panama City. It’s been needing to be cleaned up since before the hurricane and more so now,” Panama City Commissioner Jenna Haligas said.

Haligas said after Hurricane Michael, many home and business owners boarded up structures and exterior openings due to the damage. The issue is that these temporary safeguards were only meant to be temporary, not permanent or long term.

“We had a first reading but halted and decided to have a workshop in order to make sure, if we’re going to do this and we’re going to do some clarification of the language, we’re going to get everything in there that we can,” said Haligas.

While Haligas said this workshop is a big deal for the city, Hughes said knowing there’s an opportunity to rebuild this city excites him.

“It’s important to our citizens for health and it’s important for economic development and it’s important for property values and those investing in the community to make Panama City a greater place,” said Haligas.

Haligas said her biggest takeaways from Thursday night’s meeting is that the citizens expect the city to enforce the code and that the city has the ability to help residents, and the debate over if 180 days or 90 days is “temporary” enough.

“My hope is that Downtown can come back and be a vibrant downtown like it used to be back a long, long time ago,” said Hughes.

Hughes said he hopes all city residents get their neighbors to rebuild and restore their houses that need it because then property values go up.

Haligas says there is not a set date for the second commission reading. She adds if you have a problem with your house, the city can more than likely help you.

To fill out an application, visit https://rehousebay.org/.

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