Planning Commissioner asks for countywide code enforcement

Published: Friday, April 19, 2013 at 01:10 PM.

CHIPLEY — A lack of countywide code enforcement hurts development in Washington County, Planning Commissioner Jim Ackerman said on Wednesday, April 17.

Addressing the Washington County Board of Commissioners at their April workshop, Ackerman called on the board to form a committee to study the current code enforcement policies and make recommendations for improvement.

“I would like for the board to appoint a committee with myself and the county attorney on it so that we can look at the code enforcement ordiances,” Ackerman said. “I think we should also look into appointing a magistrate to oversee enforcement.”

“It is hard to get growth in a county when the county is not able to handle enforcing its own codes,” Ackerman said. He sited an article from the March 21 edition of the Panama City News-Herald that stated that Washington County ranked as one of the worst counties in the state in matters of health.

The “2013 County Health Rankings” outlined several factors, which, directly or indirectly, impact residents’ overall well-being, according to the article, which was also published in the Washington County News on March 23.

These included smoking, drinking, obesity, teen pregnancy and even high school graduation. The study was conducted as a partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. It included nearly every county in the U.S.

Washington County performed worse than the state average in nearly every category. For example, 25 percent of its residents are in “poor or fair health,” compared to 16 percent statewide and 17 percent in Bay County. About 9 percent of the county’s babies are born with a low birth weight, compared to 8.7 percent statewide and 8.4 percent in Bay County.

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