Developers of a planned Class A motorhome RV park along Back Beach Road in Panama City Beach, Fla., withdrew their application Monday (Dec. 13) after a large and raucous crowd of irate residents living near the proposed site packed a city planning board meeting.
Because the proposal technically can come before the planning board again after a wait of three months, the decision didn’t soothe many members of a crowd of more than 120 people who packed into the a meeting room at City Hall, The Walton Sun reported.
“This is a subterfuge because of the large crowd,” resident Ronald Mitchell said of the withdrawal. “It’s a wearing-down process.”
As many as 30 people could not get inside the room where a city fire marshal was monitoring the count of the standing-room-only crowd.
Planning board members first denied a request by Robert Carroll, representing property owner Nashyork in the development, to delay consideration of the proposal until he could meet with nearby neighborhoods to explain plans for a “high-end motor coach resort.”
After the delay was voted down, Carroll, vice president of McNeil Carroll Engineering, withdrew the application. Following the meeting, he said it was unclear what the next step would be, although he seemed to keep the door open a crack for any re-application.
“The citizens have spoken regarding an RV park,” Carroll said. “But that is not what we are proposing.”
The planning board was considering an application to change original plans that called for condos and townhomes on 14 1/2 acres first proposed four years ago. Carroll told board members Monday that “the market took a downturn” and the landowners wanted to move with the times.
“The market is just not there for townhomes,” he said. “They (property owners) have put a lot of money in the ground and are still paying property taxes. They would like to do something for their investment.”
Planning board chairman Paul Turner took note of the crowd when he asked for public comments on granting the delay, or continuance.
“I’m sure the churches would like to have this kind of turnout on Sunday morning,” he quipped.
To loud applause and shouts of “yeah,” resident Lubomyr (Luby) Woroch said developers could have met with residents already and only wanted a delay until the hubbub died down.
Residents made their displeasure known by showing up at Monday’s meeting, Woroch said, “and now he (Carroll) doesn’t want to play the game.” He presented a petition with 450 signatures from residents upset about the motor coach park. If the plan comes around again, “we will have more than a 1,000,” he said.
When resident Nichole Hopkins asked for a raise of hands for those opposing any delay in planning board members voting on the application, every crowd member but one raised a hand.
“This is the oldest trick in the book,” Mitchell said of Carroll’s actions. “They want to wear us down.”
The new designs called for 101 lots on 14 1/2 acres, with each lot having a 250-square-foot “accessory cabana,” which landowning company Nashyork wanted recognized as living space.
The new proposal had to be endorsed by the planning board because it was a deviation from the property’s master plan approved four years ago just prior to a groundbreaking ceremony attended by county music star Alan Jackson, who had said he planned to own a townhome there.
Both the city and county planning departments have written memos expressing concerns about the new scheme.
“I think the planning board did all they could do,” resident Adrian Warren said following the meeting. “I’m all for a person’s property rights. They (Nashyork) have a right to request a change, but the people have a right to speak.”