Locals say new developments could slow up traffic on Back Beach Road

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Panama City Beach leaders say there are one thousand housing options coming to the city within the next few years.

However, traffic has gotten worse after Hurricane Michael, and many are now concerned all the construction will make it even tougher to get around on Back Beach Road.

"They should of seen this coming a long time ago. I'm sure they did. Just, nothing has been done about it," said Panama City Beach resident Roderick Rutledge.

"It keeps picking up every year. Especially during tourist season. Even during off-tourist season during work hours," said local resident Jerrold Smith.

Some locals like Smith, who lost his home in Port St. Joe and had to relocate, said the new developments will also impact others who are also recovering from the storm.

"We have a shortage of maintenance employees," said Smith. "Our overall maintenance employees, roofers, plumbers, electricians. With all the development they're all pulled away from the residential home owners who are paying the taxes."

Some locals are wondering why city leaders are not stopping some developers from building in the area so other developers can finish their current projects. However, Panama City Beach City Manager Mario Gisbert said it's against the state law.

“I cannot deny a development as long as it meets all the regulations. The regulations are you have a driveway where it is supposed to be, you have water, sewer and power sewer available, and schools there is enough facilities for it," said Gisbert.

Gisbert said the new developments will help boost the local economy while restoring housing in the area.

"When you lost 30,000 homes, replacing with a thousand homes, it's doing nothing more than fulfilling the needs there because of the loss of homes," he said.

Gisbert said the Florida Department of Transportation is planning on widening back beach road to a six lane highway in the next few years.

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