Panama City residents voice concerns over possible transitional house


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–Panama City residents are speaking out to News 13 after we first reported on Wednesday that a sober living house may soon be established near the Garden Club.

Neighbors say it’s not exactly the nature of the house that concerns them, but the zoning and what comes along with it.

According to their website, the Oxford House Sugar Palms plans to establish its charter at a home on West 8th Street. The future home will apparently house up to 9 women and children and it caters to those recovering from addiction.

“They want the best for all of our citizens but that’s just not the place to do it, that’s not fair to anybody,” said Senator George Gainer who lives near the residence.

Senator Gainer and others living near the house say they’re concerned.

“We all have concerns for safety, how well it is going to be maintained, traffic,” said James Johnson, a concerned resident.

Neighbors say it’s not so much the tenants they’re against. But what the home means for their residential neighborhood.

“I’ve had my own issues with addiction and rehabilitation. I’m all for what they do, but we bought into this neighborhood for single-family homes,” said Bob Carter, another resident.

Carter isn’t alone. The Sheehan’s have lived across the street from the home since 1980 and say this is not what they signed up for.

“We never would have bought the house with that knowledge, ever. No. We always wanted a single-family neighborhood,” said Marty and Diane Sheehan.

The house in question is currently zoned as Residential 1 which allows for single-family homes. This distinction has many neighbors asking how the Oxford House can operate under the current zoning.

“The reason that we do the zoning is so that when you buy a piece of property you pretty much know what the end use is going to be for you and everyone else,” Gainer said.

The influx of residents is also being cited as a cause for worry.

“It’s 9 more cars on the street, 9 more people flushing their toilets, 9 more people making room where it’s supposed to be for one family,” Carter said.

Some residents even dropped flyers off in their neighbors’ mailboxes, encouraging them to go to the next Panama City city council meeting and speak out about the issue.

“There’s even a problem with the sewage system right across the street and it’s just adding that much more into what they already have,” said Clyde Mills, a concerned resident.

City officials say they’re assessing the concerns as they relate to business regulations and zoning requirements. We reached out to the Oxford House again and have not heard back.

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