Panama City Beach Council Debates Condo Development Rules - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Panama City Beach Council Debates Condo Development Rules

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Panama City Beach looks to clear up rules surrounding land development on Front Beach Road.

The debate kicked off at Thursday's City Council Meeting.

Last year, the City introduced a new land development code that enforced restrictions on how high condos could build; but projects currently on hold don't know how to move forward.

"We have several projects, about 10 or 11, that have been started or partially started, on the front beach road. So, what we've got to do is work out a way that those people have an opportunity to use their property and yet conform to the way the city and our citizens would like it to look," said PCB Mayor, Gayle Oberst.

The new code seeks to make front beach road more "walking friendly" and "get buildings to conform more," according to Oberst.

The new LDC changes the height allowance. No longer can condos build 220 feet high. New developers can build 150 feet high and then potentially higher if they can comply with incentivized projects like bike paths or parking.

However, this can potentially change the building plans for developments on hold or not started who've already purchased land for building.

Thursday, the Council looked for ways to be fair to those who already have land, by providing them with extensions on their current projects while still somewhat maintaining the new code in transition.

The decision passed 4 to 1 to go back to the drawing board to come up with terms for a fair agreement, but Councilwoman Josie Strange did not believe condo developers need more time or different rules. She said they had a fair window already.

"It's going to set precedence and that means anyone that's got a project out there that they haven't started or haven't completed is going to be able to build to their original specifications. There are plenty of condos out there that bought at the boom, went under, finished their projects…and there's no excuse for not getting the work done," said Strange.

Councilman John Reichard argued that current land owners should not have to give up courtesies that will be afforded to future land owners.

The Council will hear options at the next Council meeting.