Item 1 Minutes
Submittal of the Minutes from the February 27, 2002 and March 12, 2002 Cabinet Meetings.
(See Attachment 1, Pages 1-16)
Item 2 Clevenger Option Agreement/Blackwater River State Forest/DACS/DOF Florida Forever Inholdings and Additions Program
REQUEST: Consideration of an option agreement to acquire 240 acres within the Blackwater River State Forest under the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Forestry's Florida Forever Inholdings and Additions Program from Charles E. Clevenger.
COUNTY: Santa Rosa
APPLICANT: Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Forestry (DOF)
LOCATION: Sections 25, and 36, Township 04 North, Range 27 West
* The seller
acquired the parent tract for $91,000 in September 1972.
STAFF REMARKS: This acquisition was negotiated by DOF. The Blackwater River State Forest has been identified on DOF's approved Florida Forever Inholdings and Additions list.
The acquisition of this 240-acre in-holding of the Blackwater River State Forest will significantly improve the overall management of the forest by providing additional points of access to Juniper Creek, affording natural resource conservation and allowing additional outdoor recreation activities under a multiple-use management regime. The subject parcel includes four acres that Charles E. Clevenger donated to the First Baptist Church of Milton, Inc., (Church) in 1973. On December 19, 2000, the Church and Mr. Clevenger signed an agreement that the Church would transfer the four-acre parcel back to Mr. Clevenger if he entered into an agreement to sell the property to the State of Florida. In exchange, Mr. Clevenger will donate an improved four-acre parcel to the Church.
and liens will be satisfied at the time of closing. There is an undivided
one-half interest in oil, gas and mineral in favor of Oliver J. and Mildred
M. Gordon that has been outstanding for many years. There is no known
activity involving the mineral interests. A complete title search will
need to be done to determine if there are still any remaining outstanding
oil, gas and mineral rights. The appraisers considered the outstanding
oil, gas and mineral rights in their appraisals. The seller will make
a diligent effort to extinguish the outstanding oil, gas, and mineral
rights prior to closing. DOF will be able to manage the property with
outstanding interests in place, if necessary. On June 22, 1999, the Board
of Trustees approved a staff recommendation to delegate to the Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) the authority to review and evaluate
marketability issues as they arise on all chapter 259, F.S., acquisitions
and to resolve them appropriately. Therefore, DEP staff will
Item 2, cont.
review, evaluate and implement the most appropriate resolution for these and any other title issues that arise prior to closing.
A title insurance policy, a survey and an environmental site assessment of the property will be provided by DOF.
The property will be managed by DOF as an inholding to the Blackwater River State Forest.
This acquisition is consistent with section 187.201(23), F.S., the Agriculture section of the State Comprehensive Plan.
(See Attachment 2, Pages 1-32)
Substitute Item 3 Allen Easement/Blackwater River State Forest
REQUEST: Consideration of a request for a non-exclusive, 30-foot-wide (0.93-acre, more or less), private access and utility services easement to Ralph E. Allen and Beverly J. Allen over state-owned land in Okaloosa County within the boundary of Blackwater River State Forest.
APPLICANTS: Ralph E. Allen and Beverly J. Allen
LOCATION: Section 04, Township 04 North, Range 24 West
CONSIDERATION: $984 to be deposited into the Internal Improvement Trust Fund
STAFF REMARKS: Mr. and Mrs. Ralph E. Allen own 10 acres within the boundary of Blackwater River State Forest upon which they plan to build their residence. They acquired the land in June 1999, and more recently applied for an access and utility services easement because they have no legal access to their property. Their land is bordered on all sides by Blackwater River State Forest managed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Forestry (DOF), under Board of Trustees Lease Number 3686. As proposed, the 0.93-acre easement would extend primarily along the centerline of an existing woods road maintained by the DOF in connection with its management of the state forest. The Board of Trustees holds title to the existing road in fee simple. Telecommunication and power lines would be strung between poles that would be located within the roadway. Although the road is open to the public, it is not considered a "public" road by banks, and mortgage and utility companies because it is not dedicated to Okaloosa County and not county maintained.
qualify under Florida law for a statutory way of necessity. Section 704.01(2),
F.S., provides that a statutory way of necessity exists when land outside
municipal boundaries, used as a dwelling, or for agricultural, timbering
or stock raising purposes, is shut off so that no practicable route of
ingress or egress to the nearest public or private road exists. In such
cases, the shut off landowner may lawfully use, with or without an easement,
lands lying between the shut off property and the nearest public or private
road for access and utility services. Mr. and Mrs. Allen are willing to
pay an easement fee based on an appraisal, to obtain a recordable easement
as a means of documenting their legal access to the property. DOF supports
the easement request provided that: (1) the easement runs along the centerline
of the state forest road; (2) the road remains open to public access by
issuance of a
Substitute Item 3, cont.
nonexclusive easement; (3) the applicant understands that the road is maintained to DOF standards and any additional improvements are borne by the applicant; and (4) no exotic species are introduced with fill material used to maintain the easement. The road on which the easement is proposed runs through mixed long leaf pine and hardwood habitat with wiregrass ground cover. DOF expects the main impact to be branch trimming with few, if any, trees cut. Because the right-of-way is located on land donated to the Board of Trustees in 1955 by the federal government for management as a state forest, it is considered natural resource (conservation) land. Easements proposed for such land normally are subject to the Board of Trustees' Incompatible Use Policy (IUP). Because of this, the Allens have agreed to provide $125 worth of seed and fertilizer as a net positive benefit for use in road closure and stabilization projects on state land in the area. This request was not referred to the Acquisition and Restoration Council (ARC) because of an ARC policy of not considering easement requests with respect to the IUP when an applicant's property is landlocked and there are no mitigating or complicating circumstances.
The easement area was valued at $984. The appraisal was reviewed and approved by a staff appraiser.
A local government comprehensive plan has been adopted for this area pursuant to section 163.3167, F.S.; however, DCA determined that the plan was not in compliance. A compliance agreement between DCA and the local government has been finalized. The proposed easement is consistent with the goals, objectives and policies of the adopted Santa Rosa County Comprehensive Plan.
(See Attachment 3, Pages 1-16)
2nd Substitute Item 4 Division of Recreation and Parks' Lease/Lake Okeechobee ScenicTrail
REQUEST: Consideration of a request for a 50-year lease containing approximately 175 acres, more or less, to the Division of Recreations and Parks for the operation and management of the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail.
Okeechobee, Glades, Hendry, Palm Beach, and Martin
Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Recreation and
LOCATION: Off and on the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee
STAFF REMARKS: If approved, DRP will manage the improved trail as a unit of the state park system. DRP will maintain the improved trail surface, manage and promote public recreational use of the trail, and coordinate its activities with the many local governments and other public agencies that manage recreation facilities adjacent to the trail or have management responsibilities for the levee and related water control facilities. DRP may enter into separate agreements with these entities to address specific issues related to managing the trail.
plan for the trail was developed in 1996 by the engineering consultants
Michael & Michael Associates, Inc. The master plan was prepared with
input from an array of committees representing public agencies, local
governments, concerned citizens, user groups
2nd Substitute Item 4, cont.
and others. The plan makes conceptual recommendations for the location of trail-related facilities, trail alignment, project phasing, and operations and management. The master plan recommended that, initially, the trail not be paved due to funding constraints and reluctance of some user groups regarding paving the trail.
The Florida National Scenic Trail is one of several National Scenic Trails in the United States and was certified by Congress in 1983. The Lake Okeechobee segment of the trail, the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail, was certified in 1993 and encircles the lake on the 120-mile Herbert Hoover Dike (levee). The levee-based trail averages 34 feet in height. The levee was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) on the historic lake bottom to provide flood protection for the surrounding communities. Views from atop the levee's service drive, which currently serves as the trail, are scenic and provide panoramic vistas of the lake and surrounding areas.
In the Fall of 2001, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) committed to begin improving the trail surface on an expedited basis. Before July 2002, FDOT will be applying to the South Florida Water Management District for a temporary public easement for the surfacing of the trail, and FDOT has earmarked $12.5 million in federal highway funds to initiate construction of a suitable hardened trail surface that will accommodate the full range of non-motorized trail uses, including hiking, walking, jogging, bicycling and skating. Equestrian uses will be accommodated on the slope of the levee off of the hardened trail surface. FDOT plans to split the trail construction activities into two phases. FDOT anticipates executing a design-build contract for the project by July 2002. Approximately 60 percent of the trail's length will be improved as the result of this project.
In the 1940s, the Board of Trustees issued several non-exclusive easements to the United States of America to facilitate the construction, operation and maintenance of the works of navigation and for flood control. Through these easements, the ACOE is authorized to operate and maintain the levee. The ability of the ACOE to carry out its flood control responsibilities will not be hindered by FDOT's trail construction activities or DRP's trail management activities.
If approved, this lease will accomplish the following:
Give DRP the necessary authorization to manage and operate the Lake Okeechobee
Authorization to lease Board of Trustees-owned sovereignty lands requires meeting the directives as follows:
· Pursuant to section 253.03(7)(a), F.S., the Board of Trustees is hereby authorized and directed to administer all state-owned lands.
The above statutory requirements have been met as indicated below:
· The transaction between the Board of Trustees and DRP meets the requirements of section 253.03(7)(a), F.S., because the Board of Trustees has been directed to administer all state-owned lands. To accomplish this, administration would be through the issuance of a lease to DRP.
to section 253.115(5)(d), F.S., the notice and publication requirements
do not apply to a lease or easement for any land when the land is being
leased to a state agency.
2nd Substitute Item 4, cont.
In summary, the requested lease will provide: (1) DRP management authorization for the Lake Okeechobee trail park; and (2) recreational activities for the citizens of the State of Florida.
(See Attachment 4, Pages 1-16)
3rd Substitute Item 5 Waiver of Notice Requirement/ Eminent Domain Authorization/ Delegation of Authority/Save Our Everglades Florida Forever Project (Phase XI-A)
REQUEST: Consideration of a request to (1) obtain a waiver of the Board of Trustees' 45-day notice requirement for all first offer contracts received and currently being processed in the Department of Environmental Protection's Division of State Lands closing section; (2) direct the Department of Environmental Protection to acquire certain lands within the Save Our Everglades Florida Forever Project (Phase XI-A) from Joseph C. Winter, Jr., and Carol B. Watroba, Trustees, and Edward C. Lord, and for which the purchase price is in excess of the maximum offer amount under the delegated authority granted by the Board of Trustees on July 11, 2000; (3) direct the Department of Environmental Protection to acquire by the exercise of the power of eminent domain pursuant to the provisions of chapters 259, 73 and 74, F.S., fee simple title to all remaining non-homestead property within the portion of the Save Our Everglades Florida Forever project (Phase XI-A) lying south of I-75 on which two bona fide offers have been made; and the 37 parcels for which DSL staff is requesting a waiver of the Board of Trustees' 45 day notice requirement for all first offer contracts received and currently being processed in the DSL closing section; and (4) delegate authority to the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, or his designee, to accomplish the acquisitions as described herein through negotiation or condemnation, including authority to prepare and execute all necessary parcel-specific condemnation resolutions.
** Generally speaking DSL would spend $100,000 to $150,000 above the DSL approved value (DEP costs of acquisition) in eminent domain costs and fees. However, each case is specific and would be handled on a case-by-case basis. These are estimates based on past experience.
The Save Our Everglades project is an "A" group project on the
Florida Forever Small Parcel Project List approved by the Board of Trustees
on May 15, 2001. That portion of the project lying south of I-75, commonly
referred to as Golden Gate Estates South, contains 55,566.2 acres, of
which 50,962.54 acres have been acquired or are under agreement to be
acquired, leaving 4,603.66 acres, or 8 percent, remaining to be acquired.
The Golden Gate Estates South portion of this project includes the Southern
Golden Gate Estates subdivision and surrounding acreage tracts bordered
by I-75 to the north, US-41 to the south and the Fakahatchee Strand and
Belle Meade Florida Forever projects to the east and west, respectively.
3rd Substitute Item 5, cont.
On January 23, 2001, the Board of Trustees recognized that (1) property within the Save Our Everglades Florida Forever project lying south of I-75 is of special importance to the state; (2) the acquisition of the land is necessary to protect hydrological connections among Big Cypress National Preserve, Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, and Everglades National Park, and to protect and restore the Everglades, which is an endangered natural resource of unique value to the state; and (3) the failure to acquire this property will result in irreparable loss to the state and seriously impair the state's ability to manage or protect other state-owned lands. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has since been directed by the Board of Trustees to proceed with acquisition of the parcels in Phase XI-A.
As part of the Everglades Restoration Project, DEP has committed itself to the acquisition of the Golden Gate Estates South properties by the end of 2002 to make the land available to the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). SFWMD's construction project will restore the land to its natural state in order to restore the hydrologic conditions in the western Everglades. The roads and canals will be removed and water flow will be restored across this area in order to recreate wetlands to benefit the Everglades and restore fresh water flow to protect coastal estuaries.
In order to restore the land, SFWMD will have to remove the roads, canals and other improvements. This will include all of the recreational facilities and other structures within this 55,566.2-acre project area, excepting those structures to be used for management purposes.
There are nine parcels remaining to be purchased that fall under the Board of Trustees' homestead eminent domain policy for which DEP staff will continue to negotiate voluntary acquisitions. The owner of each homestead displaced will receive relocation and replacement housing benefits under the Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Policies Act of 1970. This will include comparable replacement housing that is decent, safe, and sanitary, functionally equivalent to the displacement dwelling, and adequate in size to accommodate the occupants.
Of the nine parcels, there are four parcels, representing 220.5 acres where the owners have applied for homestead exemption with the taxing authority in Collier County, Florida. These parcels are the owners' primary residence, and each of the four owners qualify for Federal Relocation Housing Payments (RHP), a relocation program paid from federal grant monies offering assistance in relocating displaced homeowners. The RHP payment is in addition to the payment for the property through the land acquisition efforts of DEP's Division of State Lands (DSL) staff. At the point that voluntary negotiations prove to be unsuccessful, staff will so advise the Board of Trustees.
Two of the four owners (referenced in the chart above) who have applied for homestead exemption with the taxing authority in Collier County, Florida have executed a Contract for Sale and Purchase for which the purchase price agreed to by the sellers exceeds the value of the lands as established pursuant to the Save Our Everglades (Golden Gate Estates South) CARL project acquisition delegation approved on July 11, 2000. These parcels are the owners' primary residence. Additionally these owners qualify for Federal Relocation Housing Payments (RHP). After discussions with legal counsel for the eminent domain process, DEP staff believes it to be in the best interest of the Board of Trustees to accept the counter-offer made by sellers.
been 18 owners of 23 parcels, representing 233.13 acres, successfully
moved under the RHP relocation program. Additionally, without benefit
of the RHP relocation program, the state has purchased, or has under contract
to purchase, 44 parcels from 44
3rd Substitute Item 5, cont.
owners, representing 647.93 acres containing some form of improvements (i.e. mobile home, wooden shed, weekend hunting facilities, etc.).
Additionally, DSL has received 37 fully executed contracts from 13 owners, representing 45.2 acres, accepting the first offer. These valid first offer contracts are being processed through the closing section. In the unlikely event one or more of these non-homestead parcels under contract should fail to close (due to title matters, etc.), staff requests approval to pursue eminent domain on any contracts that fail to close. The filing of eminent domain actions against these parcels accepting the first offer and that would be affected would require a waiver of the Board of Trustees' 45-day notice requirement. A list of owners affected by this request is attached as Exhibit A.
There are 32 owners of 41 parcels, representing 686.47 acres, who claim their property is for recreational use. These owners may have recreational facilities and other structures on the parcel; however, the acquisition of these properties is a vital component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). Removal of roadways, canals and other restoration plans provided under CERP would prohibit access to these recreational use properties, and would prohibit 100 percent fee simple ownership of this project area as provided within the terms of the federal grant governing the acquisition efforts. A list of owners affected by this request is attached as Exhibit B.
DSL staff has not presented the acquisition status of Phase VI. This Phase has been reserved for the Miccosukee Indian Tribe, owner of three parcels totaling 800 acres, more or less, of land within the South Golden Gate Estates area known as South of the Border. DSL staff has been advised that the Miccosukee Indian Tribe supports the restoration and conservation efforts, but a written agreement for the use of its land for restoration purposes has not been secured. Negotiations are ongoing between the Naples, Florida office of SFWMD and the Miccosukee Indian Tribe. At the time the agreement is complete, staff will return to the Board of Trustees to obtain approval.
One of the parcels owned by the Miccosukee Indian Tribe is located along Miller Boulevard Extension, a dirt road located to the far western boundary of the project. At this time, negotiations for a settlement agreement between the Collier County Commissioners and the owners along the extension, to include the Board of Trustees, have essentially stopped, and any prescriptive easement rights claimed by Collier County will be determined in the local court system. In that all parcels along Miller Boulevard Extension are now under contract, or have been purchased by the Board of Trustees, excluding the parcel owned by the Miccosukee Indian Tribe, it is anticipated that settlement of any pending issues is forthcoming. Again, DSL staff will return to the Board of Trustees to obtain approval.
Public acquisition is essential to continue the conservation, preservation and restoration of this endangered portion of the western Everglades ecosystem that is a vital component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). Conserving this land is critical to the ecosystem in the western Everglades, its wildlife and the water quality throughout the area.
In 1996, the hydrological restoration plan was identified as a "Critical Project" under the Federal Water Resources Development Act making it eligible for federal funds. The project was subsequently added to CERP.
The acquisition will allow the restoration of significant wetlands crucial to the reestablishment of the historic water flow pattern in the western Everglades. Nearly half of this region's water flows into Everglades National Park.
this portion of the Save Our Everglades Florida Forever project will also
help preserve and restore the fresh water flow necessary for maintaining
the rich productivity of Gulf Coast estuaries, such as Rookery Bay and
the Ten Thousand Islands. Moreover, the
Item 5, cont.
Public acquisition of this portion of the Save Our Everglades Florida Forever project will preserve a large piece of South Florida's unique ecosystem. Ultimately, this will contribute to the formation of a continuous public conservation corridor extending across South Florida from the Gulf Coast to approximately ten miles from the Atlantic Ocean. It will help protect the western Everglades ecosystem from encroachment of residential, commercial and industrial development.
In 1999, the Big Cypress Basin Board advised DEP that the hydrologic restoration was scheduled to commence as early as October 2002, and 100 percent public ownership would be required. After multiple rounds of appraisals and offers over the last fifteen years, nearly 4,000 parcels in Southern Golden Gate Estates and the surrounding area still remain to be acquired. Due to the relatively large number of remaining parcels, a plan was developed to increase the percentage of parcels acquired by voluntary means while assuring that all lands are acquired by October 2002. The first step in the plan was to seek authority from the Board of Trustees to offer amounts in excess of the appraised value in an effort to acquire as much property as possible without having to resort to the use of eminent domain. On July 11, 2000, the Board of Trustees authorized DEP's Director of the Division of State Lands (DSL), or her designee, to extend bona fide offers and approve any contract for the sale and purchase of land at $5,000 over or up to 125 percent of the appraised value, whichever is greater, when the purchase price per parcel does not exceed $50,000, and at up to 125 percent of the appraised value when the purchase price per parcel exceeds $50,000.
To assure a constant flow of parcels to the Office of the Attorney General, a plan was developed to process the parcels in multiple phases. To date, parcels within Phases I, II, III, IV, V, VII, VII-A, VIII, IX, IX-A, X and XI that cannot be acquired voluntarily are being processed through the court system of Collier County.
On the advice of the Office of the Attorney General, appraisals were updated to assure that offers would satisfy the bona fide offer requirement and on March 5, 2002, second bona fide offers were tendered to the 500 owners (639 parcels) in Phase XI-A. The initial mailing and follow-up negotiations with the owners within Phase XI-A resulted in the successful negotiation and approval of contracts for 271 of the 639 parcels or 58 percent of Phase XI-A. Negotiations for the acquisition of the 368 remaining parcels in Phase XI-A have reached an impasse; however, the bona fide offer requirement of section 259.041(14), F.S., has been satisfied. In the event one or more of these non-homestead parcels placed under contract cannot close for any reason, the authority requested today covers all 639 parcels. Parcels under contract will be held by DSL and only parcels that have reached impasse or parcels that cannot be closed by voluntary means will be turned over to the Office of the Attorney General.
Section 259.041(14), F.S., authorizes the Board of Trustees, by majority vote of all of its members, to direct DEP to exercise its power of eminent domain pursuant to the provisions of chapters 73 and 74, F.S. Eminent domain may be used to acquire any of the property on the Florida Forever "A" group project priority list if (1) the state has made at least two bona fide offers to purchase the land through negotiation and an impasse between the state and the land owner has been reached; and (2) the land is of special importance to the state because (a) it involves an endangered or natural resource and is in imminent danger of being developed; (b) it is of unique value to the state and failure to acquire the property would constitute an irreparable loss to the state; or (c) the failure to acquire the property would seriously impair the state's ability to manage or protect other state-owned lands.
3rd Substitute Item 5, cont.
The parcels included in Phase XI-A of the Save Our Everglades Florida Forever project, and the 37 parcels for which DSL staff is requesting a waiver of the Board of Trustees' 45 day notice requirement for all first offer contracts received and currently being processed in the DSL section, lying south of I-75 meet these criteria: (1) the state has made at least two bona fide offers and has been unable to acquire these parcels through negotiation; and (2) in section 373.4592(1), F.S., the legislature has recognized that the Everglades ecological system is unique in the world and one of Florida's great treasures. They also recognize that the CERP is important for restoring the Everglades ecosystem and sustaining the environment, economy, and social well being of South Florida. The Everglades ecological system is endangered as a result of adverse changes in water quality, and in the quantity, distribution, and timing of flows and, therefore, must be restored and protected. The hydrological restoration of these lands is an essential component of the CERP.
Pursuant to the Board of Trustees' eminent domain policy, DSL has mailed proper notice to all owners of record in Phase XI-A at least 45 days prior to this Board of Trustees' meeting. In accordance with the eminent domain policy, the notice advised the owners that homesteaded property was exempt from eminent domain without the owner's written permission. As of April 16, 2002 at 5:00 p.m., only 33 responses to the written notice had been received. While two of the owners representing two parcels objected to the use of eminent domain, they represent less than one percent of the remaining ownerships in Phase XI-A.
If the Board of Trustees approves this item, DSL intends to amend its existing contract with the Office of the Attorney General to handle the condemnation of these parcels. DSL staff has reviewed the current tax rolls for Collier County, Florida, and status of negotiations for remaining parcels and does not expect to tender additional second bona fide offers. However, should additional second bona fide offers be required, staff will return to the Board of Trustees to seek authority to pursue those parcels that have reached impasse or parcels that cannot be closed by voluntary means. Given the volume of parcels in private ownership, it is possible one additional phase may need to be added for clean up of any such offers.
The property will be managed by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Forestry as an addition to Picayune State Forest. DEP's Division of Recreation and Parks will manage the property in the area east of the Faka Union Canal. SFWMD will coordinate the implementation of the hydrologic restoration project.
These acquisitions are consistent with section 187.201(10), F.S., the Natural Systems and Recreational Lands section of the State Comprehensive Plan.
(See Attachment 5, Pages 1-48)