Panama City residents want compromise on proposed Suzuki dock in Robinson Bayou

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 8:40 PM CDT
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Suzuki Motors of America is making Panama City one of its homes but some locals aren’t exactly laying out the welcome mat.

“My main concern is the environmental impact. This is pristine bayou back there and when you have a bunch of wave runners running through it’s going to cause noise pollution,” Robinson Bayou resident Brianne Carlson said.

Monday, the Panama City Planning Board approved Suzuki’s development order for its marine technical center which includes plans to build a large 40-slip dock in Robinson Bayou.

However, residents’ concerns don’t mean they’re against compromise.

“We are not opposed to Suzuki coming here. As a matter of fact, we welcome Suzuki,” Robinson Bayou resident Mary Marie Clemo said.

Clemo believes the plans and location don’t work well together.

“To be honest it just needs to fit in the bayou better, not come out so much, not be so obtrusive, so we can still water ski and enjoy, and a lot of people kayak and paddleboard,” Clemo said.

Although the project has been met with opposition, others said it’s game-changing.

“It’s not every day you get to announce an internationally branded company coming into your community,” Bay Economic Development Alliance President Becca Hardin said.

The center is projected to create dozens of new jobs.

“They’ll hire engineers and technicians to work at their facility here in Bay County, and we’re just really excited to welcome them to town,” Hardin said.

Clemo is also excited within reason; she proposed a 20-slip dock.

“All we want is compromise. We just don’t want a huge dock coming in and raking up most of the bayou,” Clemo said.

The board approved the order on four conditions:

1. The permit must be approved by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

2. The marina size will be reduced from 40 slips to 32.

3. A “no wake” company policy for Suzuki vessels will be established.

4. If the purpose of the marina would ever be changed from industrial to commercial or private, a new Development Order would have to be considered and approved.

The decision may be appealed within 30 days.

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