Growing Pains: Part III

The rural area is changing its face to meet today's demands for beach front property.

Vance Millender, owner of Millender and Sons Seafood, says, “we're hanging in there; gonna stay as long as we can.”

Vance Millender owns the last surviving shrimp house in Carrabelle, Florida. The rest have been crowded out by condominiums and slow business, but Millender's and Sons refuses to budge for now.

Vance Millender says, “There's gonna be pressure to sell because I'll be surrounded by condos.”

And the longer he waits, the more he makes. That's what happened to his neighbors.

Millender says C-Quarters Marina recently sold out to developers in the tune of $20 million, and remember Julia Mae's restaurant? Today it's home to a 2,600 square foot docominium, a fancy new term for boat docks.

It’s progress that's occurring across the forgotten coast.

Cheryl Sanders, Franklin County Commissioner, says, “We're going through a metamorphisstage; we try and see where we want to grow.”

Explosive growth is the catch phrase, one that's sparking debates.

Dan Tonsmeire, Apalachicola River keeper, says, “We have had over 1,000 properties approved, and now another 3,700 sent to state for approval.”

Those whose mission is to protect the bay say that's too much density too fast, while others who own property are cashing in.

Bud Dorrier, a Lanark Village resident, says, “I just sold my apartment that would have went for $5,000 and now it sold for $50,000.”

Currently Prudential Resort Realty has postings for homes like the ones in Eastpoint, a two bedroom, two bath valued at three quarters of a million dollars! Compare that number to another beachside beauty. It's over $3 million! Both values have locals torn between staying or selling.

Jim Sullivan, a Carrabelle resident, says, “Well, if they offer enough money I'm not averse to taking it and move somewhere else.”

Should they stay or should they go?

It all comes down to this: when small town traditions meet new wave development they're bound to encounter choppy waters the struggle is unavoidable. The questions is how will the two coincide? Only time will tell.

While county leaders say growth along the coast is under control, some citizen organizations disagree. For instance, the Panhandle Citizens Coalition says the county's growth is "out of control" and it could begin litigation.