Condo developers in Panama City Beach who may have experienced tough times in the down economy may now experience some extension relief for their jobs on hold.
It doesn't come without some controversy, especially from Councilmen who believe developments have had enough time for construction to rebound and don't deserve the help.
"We worked on the Land Development Code for two years. It's been in place and adopted for the last year, so I feel that developers had that three year time period. They also had by the state in 2009 and 2011, two times that they could have gotten their extensions. Nothing has happened. Now that our LDC is out there, Development orders that drive all this are coming up and now people want relief," said Councilman Keith Curry.
According to Curry and Councilwoman Josie Strange, special treatment shouldn't happen; but it didn't stop the ordinance from a 3 to 2 approval to allow development order extensions on older projects that have been on hold since 2008.
Developers will now see their projects be put into a class system that will determine whether or not they get a 1, 2 or 3 year extension on their project.
Those who fall under the 2 to 3 year class with have to make 10% or 20% concessions, respectively, to the height of their condo, under the new land development code.
The relief wasn't popular with some area residents who felt the high rise condos are a negative impact to the neighborhood.
But Mayor Gayle Oberst said this is about fairness and they shouldn't hinder progress.
"It is really hard because we moved our land development codes into a different area and we expected people to just except that. Many of the people who own property here are locals and are developers who were in the middle of or beginning to do a project. It's just not right for Government to tell them they can't build their building," said Oberst.
The new LDC changes the height allowance of condos. New developers can build 150 feet and then potentially higher if they agree to incentivized building add-ons like bike paths.