BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — After months of meetings, hearings and comments from the public Bay County Commissioners reluctantly approved a development order for cement silos on Wednesday.
Hollingshead Materials already had the development order to build three 167 foot cement silos. But because so many people had concerns, it was brought before the county commission.
County Commissioner Doug Moore said their hands were tied.
“Unfortunately our land development regulation and our code plan puts in place that the people that applied for the industrial development have the right to build what they’re wanting to build,” Moore said. “Regardless of how we feel about it, we must follow the law.”
Moore said the construction process for the controversial Southport silos is going to be very strict for Hollingshead. The approval didn’t come without several stern warnings from commissioners.
“We’re gonna get kicked in the teeth by the other side because of this because our hands are tied by the law,” Moore said. “But when they come to us, when y’all have done something wrong, they get the benefit of the doubt, not you.”
“Ya’ll are gonna have some eyes on you,” Commissioner Griff Griffitts said. “I mean some serious eyes. Every regulatory agency in the state will be on that property in the next 6 months many, many times. Guaranteed.”
Commissioners were hoping the company would lower the height of the silos, but Hollingshead said it would have been expensive and forced them to scrap their current site plan. However, county commissioners didn’t appear to sympathize with the company.
“There are locations around Bay County that you can reach by water to where there would not be this problem,” County Commissioner William Dozier said. “So they’ve had the option in the past to look other places they’ve chosen not to do that. So any inconvenience on this company, does not bother me a bit.”
The development order was approved but with new conditions. Some of those conditions address hours of operations, air quality permits and the McKenzie Boat Ramp.
Residents have complained about Hollingshead’s barges blocking access to the boat ramp. In regards to the boat ramp, the development order says: “At no time may any activity associated with this development prevent or impede full water and roadway access to and from the McKenzie Boat Ramp.”
While some appreciated the commission’s work, others did not.
“You do not care about us and that’s very obvious,” said Southport resident Eleanor Thompson.
“You’ve put the nail in the coffin of that wonderful community there,” said Southport resident Bonnie Thompson.
Commissioner Doug Moore said they will be re-evaluating county height ordinances in the near future.