PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) — It’s a hot topic being talked about by residents of the west end of Panama City Beach, as six large metal gates have been installed at Sunnyside beach access points. just before the 4th of July. Construction was put on hold when a petition was filed challenging the permit, but as of earlier this month, that permit is now officially in effect.
Panama City Beach resident Casey Dunn has been coming to Sunnyside Park for 15 years. Along with others living in the nearby Riviera Beach neighborhood, he began noticing changes early last month.
“Me, my wife and my friends all go down to this beach and try to be good beach keepers. Picking up trash, we take this as our beach and try to take good care of it,” Dunn said. We had heard the chatter. Everyone in the neighborhood is talking about privatizing the beach, closing it. But nothing had really happened. And then I guess it was around the 4th of July that they installed these gates And obviously they stressed everyone out.
The gates were installed by the Sunnyside Beach Property Owners Association, a volunteer group formed by residents who have been paying taxes on this lot for years. But according to the Bay County Property Appraiser’s website, it wasn’t their beach to close in the first place. Although they had obtained a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, it was pending, which halted construction. It was until the beginning of the month.
“We were out of town last week and when I was coming back from the Carousel, we noticed they had put up some fencing on the beach,” Dunn said.
Although the issue has become a lawsuit, the small fences and the possibility of locks on the doors are legal. The petition challenging the permit is no longer valid, which means that the permit officially exists.
NewsChannel 7 contacted both parties, but they declined as the legal case is still open and ongoing.
According to the permit, no landscaping or lighting is permitted.
On Wednesday, the doors were still unlocked.
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