Panama City leaders hold public meeting on nuisance abatement ordinance

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — More than two years after Hurricane Michael, blue tarps and damaged homes can still be seen across Bay County.  

In Panama City on Thursday night, city leaders and residents met to come to a solution on getting the area put back together through the city’s nuisance abatement ordinance public workshop. 

“We need to clean up our city,” said Panama City resident, Robbie Hughes, who said he still sees the damage of Hurricane Michael all over town. 

“The boarded windows, the broken down doors, the blue tarps, that’s just visually unappealing,” he said.

The city’s nuisance abatement ordinance is an effort to get it all cleaned up, by better defining the word “temporary.”

“It doesn’t say what temporary is, and a lot of logic would tell you well maybe it’s not four decades or five decades but there was no definition,” explained Jenna Haligas, a commissioner for the city. “So it led us to change the language in the code.”

Residents were able to comment on the ordinance that city commissioners will vote on in the near future, to agree on solutions as a community. 

“We can all come together and have similar ideas to help find a common good,” Hughes said. “That’s to clean up our city. Make it look better, be better.”

“It’s important for our citizens for health,” Haligas said. “It’s important for economic development and it’s important for property values, and those in the community that are investing to make Panama City a greater place.”

Now, city leaders will continue to get feedback; they’re urging residents to get involved. 

“Talk to your commissioners about what your thoughts are so that they can make a determination when this second reading shows back up, and is this the right path for the city,” Hughes said.

They’re also reminding those who need help that they’re not alone.

“We have more programs than we ever did before because of the hurricane to help people,” Haligas said. “If you’ve got a blue tarp on your house there’s a very good chance that we’ve got funding that will be able to help you.”

There’s no word yet on when the second reading for the ordinance will happen, but if you missed Thursday’s meeting, you can still give your feedback on the nuisance abatement ordinance and how it will work throughout Panama City. 

CLICK HERE to read the ordinance and supporting documents. 

Residents should email their comments to the city’s structural engineer, Steve Stafford, at sstafford@pcgov.org.

CLICK HERE for more information on the Rebuild Bay County program, and how to apply for assistance.

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