Panama City Beach resident out thousands of dollars after city issues and revokes pool permit

Jose Santiago says he spent nearly $14,000 to install a pool in their backyard.
Jose Santiago says he spent nearly $14,000 to install a pool in their backyard.(WJHG/WECP)
Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 11:34 PM EDT
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One Panama City Beach family spent nearly $14,000 to install a pool in their backyard but now all they have is one giant hole.

“From my angle, a lot of people let me down,” Panama City Beach resident Jose Santiago said.

Santiago’s dream has always been to build a pool for him and his family.

With approval from the community’s HOA and an approved residential swimming pool permit from the City of Panama City Beach, it was one, two, three for the pool construction company.

“We started the project back in October. The city issued a permit for us to have the pool constructed, and then sometime in January after all this was done, the city came back and said we couldn’t continue the project,” Santiago said.

A promising project brought to a gaping halt.

Santiago said the city suddenly revoked the pool permit citing his dream pool was sitting on a stormwater easement.

“There’s three houses with pools in their backyards. Obviously, I don’t know the ins and outs about easements but from my view it’s possible. They have it, they’ve done it. How come I cannot do it for my pool?” Santiago said.

Santiago said he sat down with city officials about the matter. He said he was given the option to find an engineer to redesign the plans but no local engineer would take on the project.

“Then I’m back to square one, what am I going to do?” Santiago said.

Then come April, matters got more expensive.

Now he’s wondering why is he ultimately paying for the city’s mistake?

City officials declined to go on camera about the matter since there is pending litigation. We were emailed this statement instead:

“In 2020, Blue Haven Pools, on behalf of Mr. Jose Santiago, submitted an application for a pool construction at 160 Hombre Circle. This was approved on October 22, 2020. As part of the application, the homeowner submitted a survey that failed to show a stormwater easement across the entirety of the property’s backyard. Based on the survey error, the permit was issued by the City’s Building Department. These permits are issued to ensure that the construction projects are compliant with City Codes but the City does not complete a title search for every application.

Following the start of construction, a City employee with the stormwater section of the Public Works Department, noticed the construction and informed the homeowner that the pool’s footprint was sitting on a critical stormwater easement which ensures that the property (and surrounding properties) don’t flood. The City alerted the homeowner and pool contractor as soon as this was discovered and required the pool’s construction to be stopped until a solution could be found.

Since then, the City has continued to work with the homeowner in hopes of finding a solution which will allow the pool to exist without endangering surrounding properties to flooding. We hope this can be worked out soon.”

Santiago pointed out at the bottom of the submitted survey, it states “it is possible there are deeds of record, unrecorded deeds, easements, or other instruments which could affect the boundaries.”

Both parties now at odds finding a solution.

“I’m okay with not having the pool as long as they do the right thing again. If I’m not allowed to have the pool because x, y, and z, at least get me out of this mess,” Santiago said.

Santiago’s 30 days are up on May 11; that’s when the city will start charging him the $600 a day to fix the hole in his backyard that the city allowed him to start digging.

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