253.025 Acquisition of state lands for purposes other than preservation, conservation, and recreation.—
(1) Neither the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund nor its duly authorized agent shall commit the state, through any instrument of negotiated contract or agreement for purchase, to the purchase of lands with or without appurtenances unless the provisions of this section have been fully complied with. However, the board of trustees may substitute federally mandated acquisition procedures for the provisions of this section when federal funds are available and will be utilized for the purchase of lands, title to which will vest in the board of trustees, and qualification for such federal funds requires compliance with federally mandated acquisition procedures. Notwithstanding any provisions in this section to the contrary, if lands are being acquired by the board of trustees for the anticipated sale, conveyance, or transfer to the Federal Government pursuant to a joint state and federal acquisition project, the board of trustees may use appraisals obtained by the Federal Government in the acquisition of such lands. The board of trustees may waive any provision of this section when land is being conveyed from a state agency to the board.
(2) Prior to any state agency initiating any land acquisition, except as pertains to the purchase of property for transportation facilities and transportation corridors and property for borrow pits for road building purposes, the agency shall coordinate with the Division of State Lands to determine the availability of existing, suitable state-owned lands in the area and the public purpose for which the acquisition is being proposed. If the state agency determines that no suitable state-owned lands exist, the state agency may proceed to acquire such lands by employing all available statutory authority for acquisition.
(3) Land acquisition procedures provided for in this section are for voluntary, negotiated acquisitions.
(4) For the purposes of this section, the term “negotiations” does not include preliminary contacts with the property owner to determine the availability of the property, existing appraisal data, existing abstracts, and surveys.
(5) Evidence of marketable title shall be provided by the landowner prior to the conveyance of title, as provided in the final agreement for purchase. Such evidence of marketability shall be in the form of title insurance or an abstract of title with a title opinion. The board of trustees may waive the requirement that the landowner provide evidence of marketable title, and, in such case, the acquiring agency shall provide evidence of marketable title. The board of trustees or its designee may waive the requirement of evidence of marketability for acquisitions of property assessed by the county property appraiser at $10,000 or less, where the Division of State Lands finds, based upon such review of the title records as is reasonable under the circumstances, that there is no apparent impediment to marketability, or to management of the property by the state.
(6) Prior to negotiations with the parcel owner to purchase land pursuant to this section, title to which will vest in the board of trustees, an appraisal of the parcel shall be required as follows:
(a) Each parcel to be acquired shall have at least one appraisal. Two appraisals are required when the estimated value of the parcel exceeds $1 million. When a parcel is estimated to be worth $100,000 or less and the director of the Division of State Lands finds that the cost of an outside appraisal is not justified, a comparable sales analysis or other reasonably prudent procedures may be used by the division to estimate the value of the parcel, provided the public’s interest is reasonably protected. The state is not required to appraise the value of lands and appurtenances that are being donated to the state.
(b) Appraisal fees shall be paid by the agency proposing the acquisition. The board of trustees shall approve qualified fee appraisal organizations. All appraisals used for the acquisition of lands pursuant to this section shall be prepared by a member of an approved appraisal organization or by a state-certified appraiser. The board of trustees shall adopt rules for selecting individuals to perform appraisals pursuant to this section. Each fee appraiser selected to appraise a particular parcel shall, prior to contracting with the agency, submit to that agency an affidavit substantiating that he or she has no vested or fiduciary interest in such parcel.
(c) The board of trustees shall adopt by rule the minimum criteria, techniques, and methods to be used in the preparation of appraisal reports. Such rules shall incorporate, to the extent practicable, generally accepted appraisal standards. Any appraisal issued for acquisition of lands pursuant to this section must comply with the rules adopted by the board of trustees. A certified survey must be made which meets the minimum requirements for upland parcels established in the Minimum Technical Standards for Land Surveying in Florida published by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and which accurately portrays, to the greatest extent practicable, the condition of the parcel as it currently exists. The requirement for a certified survey may, in part or in whole, be waived by the board of trustees any time prior to submitting the agreement for purchase to the Division of State Lands. When an existing boundary map and description of a parcel are determined by the division to be sufficient for appraisal purposes, the division director may temporarily waive the requirement for a survey until any time prior to conveyance of title to the parcel. The fee appraiser and the review appraiser for the agency shall not act in any way that may be construed as negotiating with the property owner.
(d) Appraisal reports are confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1), for use by the agency and the board of trustees, until an option contract is executed or, if no option contract is executed, until 2 weeks before a contract or agreement for purchase is considered for approval by the board of trustees. However, the Division of State Lands may disclose appraisal information to public agencies or nonprofit organizations that agree to maintain the confidentiality of the reports or information when joint acquisition of property is contemplated, or when a public agency or nonprofit organization enters into a written agreement with the division to purchase and hold property for subsequent resale to the division. In addition, the division may use, as its own, appraisals obtained by a public agency or nonprofit organization, provided the appraiser is selected from the division’s list of appraisers and the appraisal is reviewed and approved by the division. For the purposes of this paragraph, “nonprofit organization” means an organization whose purpose is the preservation of natural resources, and which is exempt from federal income tax under s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The agency may release an appraisal report when the passage of time has rendered the conclusions of value in the report invalid.
(e) Prior to acceptance of an appraisal, the agency shall submit a copy of such report to the Division of State Lands. The division shall review such report for compliance with the rules of the board of trustees. Any questions of applicability of laws affecting an appraisal shall be addressed by the legal office of the agency.
(f) The appraisal report shall be accompanied by the sales history of the parcel for at least the prior 5 years. Such sales history shall include all parties and considerations with the amount of consideration verified, if possible. If a sales history would not be useful, or its cost prohibitive compared to the value of a parcel, the sales history may be waived by the board of trustees. The board of trustees shall adopt a rule specifying guidelines for waiver of a sales history.
(g) The board of trustees may consider an appraisal acquired by a seller, or any part thereof, in negotiating to purchase a parcel, but such appraisal may not be used in lieu of an appraisal required by this subsection or to determine the maximum offer allowed by law.
(7)(a) When the owner is represented by an agent or broker, negotiations may not be initiated or continued until a written statement verifying such agent’s or broker’s legal or fiduciary relationship with the owner is on file with the agency.
(b) The board of trustees or any state agency may contract for real estate acquisition services, including, but not limited to, contracts for real estate commission fees.
(c) Upon the initiation of negotiations, the state agency shall inform the owner in writing that all agreements for purchase are subject to approval by the board of trustees.
(d) All offers or counteroffers shall be documented in writing and shall be confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) until an option contract is executed, or if no option contract is executed, until 2 weeks before a contract or agreement for purchase is considered for approval by the board of trustees. The agency shall maintain complete and accurate records of all offers and counteroffers for all projects.
(e)1. The board of trustees shall adopt by rule the method for determining the value of parcels sought to be acquired by state agencies pursuant to this section. No offer by a state agency, except an offer by an agency acquiring lands pursuant to s. 259.041, may exceed the value for that parcel as determined pursuant to the highest approved appraisal or the value determined pursuant to the rules of the board of trustees, whichever value is less.
2. In the case of a joint acquisition by a state agency and a local government or other entity apart from the state, the joint purchase price may not exceed 150 percent of the value for a parcel as determined in accordance with the limits prescribed in subparagraph 1. The state agency share of a joint purchase offer may not exceed what the agency may offer singly as prescribed by subparagraph 1.
3. The provisions of this paragraph do not apply to the acquisition of historically unique or significant property as determined by the Division of Historical Resources of the Department of State.
(f) When making an offer to a landowner, a state agency shall consider the desirability of a single cash payment in relation to the maximum offer allowed by law.
(g) The state shall have the authority to reimburse the owner for the cost of the survey when deemed appropriate. The reimbursement shall not be considered a part of the purchase price.
(h) A final offer shall be in the form of an option contract or agreement for purchase and shall be signed and attested to by the owner and the representative of the agency. Before the agency executes the option contract or agreement for purchase, the contract or agreement shall be reviewed for form and legality by legal staff of the agency. Before the agency signs the agreement for purchase or exercises the option contract, the provisions of s. 286.23 shall be complied with. Within 10 days after the signing of the agreement for purchase, the state agency shall furnish the Division of State Lands with the original of the agreement for purchase along with copies of the disclosure notice, evidence of marketability, the accepted appraisal report, the fee appraiser’s affidavit, a statement that the inventory of existing state-owned lands was examined and contained no available suitable land in the area, and a statement outlining the public purpose for which the acquisition is being made and the statutory authority therefor.
(i) Within 45 days of receipt by the Division of State Lands of the agreement for purchase and the required documentation, the board of trustees or, when the purchase price does not exceed $100,000, its designee shall either reject or approve the agreement. An approved agreement for purchase is binding on both parties. Any agreement which has been disapproved shall be returned to the agency, along with a statement as to the deficiencies of the agreement or the supporting documentation. An agreement for purchase which has been disapproved by the board of trustees may be resubmitted when such deficiencies have been corrected.
(8)(a) No dedication, gift, grant, or bequest of lands and appurtenances may be accepted by the board of trustees until the receiving state agency supplies sufficient evidence of marketability of title. The board of trustees may not accept by dedication, gift, grant, or bequest any lands and appurtenances that are determined as being owned by the state either in fee or by virtue of the state’s sovereignty or which are so encumbered so as to preclude the use of such lands and appurtenances for any reasonable public purpose. The board of trustees may accept a dedication, gift, grant, or bequest of lands and appurtenances without formal evidence of marketability, or when the title is nonmarketable, if the board or its designee determines that such lands and appurtenances have value and are reasonably manageable by the state, and that their acceptance would serve the public interest. The state is not required to appraise the value of such donated lands and appurtenances as a condition of receipt.
(b) No deed filed in the public records to donate lands to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund shall be construed to transfer title to or vest title in the board of trustees unless there shall also be filed in the public records, a document indicating that the board of trustees has agreed to accept the transfer of title to such donated lands.
(9) Any conveyance to the board of trustees of fee title shall be made by no less than a special warranty deed, unless the conveyance is from the Federal Government, the county government, or another state agency or, in the event of a gift or donation by quitclaim deed, if the board of trustees, or its designee, determines that the acceptance of such quitclaim deed is in the best interest of the public. A quitclaim deed may also be accepted to aid in clearing title or boundary questions. The title to lands acquired pursuant to this section shall vest in the board of trustees as provided in s. 253.03(1). All such lands, title to which is vested in the board pursuant to this section, shall be administered pursuant to the provisions of s. 253.03.
(10) The board of trustees may purchase tax certificates or tax deeds issued in accordance with chapter 197 relating to property eligible for purchase under this section.
(11) The Auditor General shall conduct audits of acquisitions and divestitures which, according to his or her preliminary assessments of board-approved acquisitions and divestitures, he or she deems necessary. These preliminary assessments shall be initiated not later than 60 days following the final approval by the board of land acquisitions under this section. If an audit is conducted, the Auditor General shall submit an audit report to the board of trustees, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and their designees.
(12) The board of trustees and all affected agencies shall adopt and may modify or repeal such rules and regulations as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this section, including rules governing the terms and conditions of land purchases. Such rules shall address the procedures to be followed, when multiple landowners are involved in an acquisition, in obtaining written option agreements so that the interests of the state are fully protected.
(13)(a) The Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund may deed property to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, so that the department shall be able to sell, convey, transfer, exchange, trade, or purchase land on which a forestry facility resides for money or other more suitable property on which to relocate the facility. Any sale or purchase of property by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall follow the requirements of subsections (5)-(9). Any sale shall be at fair market value, and any trade shall ensure that the state is getting at least an equal value for the property. Except as provided in subsections (5)-(9), the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is excluded from following the provisions of this chapter and chapters 259 and 375. This exclusion shall not apply to lands acquired for conservation purposes in accordance with s. 253.034(6)(a) or (b).
(b) In the case of a sale by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services of a forestry facility, the proceeds of the sale shall go into the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Relocation and Construction Trust Fund. The Legislature may, at the request of the department, appropriate such money within the trust fund to the department for purchase of land and construction of a facility to replace the disposed facility. All proceeds other than land, from any sale, conveyance, exchange, trade, or transfer conducted as provided for in this subsection shall be placed within the department’s Relocation and Construction Trust Fund.
(c) Additional funds may be added from time to time by the Legislature to further the relocation and construction of forestry facilities. In the instance where an equal trade of land occurs, money from the trust fund may be appropriated for building construction even though no money was received from the trade.
(d) There is hereby created in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services the Relocation and Construction Trust Fund. The trust fund is to be used for the sole purpose of effectuating the orderly relocation of the forestry fire towers and work centers.
(14) Any agency that acquires land on behalf of the board of trustees is authorized to request disbursement of payments for real estate closings in accordance with a written authorization from an ultimate beneficiary to allow a third party authorized by law to receive such payment provided the Chief Financial Officer determines that such disbursement is consistent with good business practices and can be completed in a manner minimizing costs and risks to the state.
(15) Pursuant to s. 944.10, the Department of Corrections is responsible for obtaining appraisals and entering into option agreements and agreements for the purchase of state correctional facility sites. An option agreement or agreement for purchase is not binding upon the state until it is approved by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund. The provisions of paragraphs (6)(b), (c), and (d) and (7)(b), (c), and (d) apply to all appraisals, offers, and counteroffers of the Department of Corrections for state correctional facility sites.
(16) Many parcels of land acquired pursuant to this section may contain cattle-dipping vats as defined in s. 376.301. The state is encouraged to continue with the acquisition of such lands including the cattle-dipping vat.
(17) Pursuant to s. 985.682, the Department of Juvenile Justice is responsible for obtaining appraisals and entering into option agreements and agreements for the purchase of state juvenile justice facility sites. An option agreement or agreement for purchase is not binding upon the state until it is approved by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund. The provisions of paragraphs (6)(b), (c), and (d) and (7)(b), (c), and (d) apply to all appraisals, offers, and counteroffers of the Department of Juvenile Justice for state juvenile justice facility sites.
History.—s. 9, ch. 79-255; s. 7, ch. 80-356; s. 166, ch. 81-259; s. 2, ch. 82-152; s. 2, ch. 83-114; s. 14, ch. 84-330; s. 57, ch. 85-80; s. 1, ch. 85-84; s. 12, ch. 86-163; s. 65, ch. 86-186; s. 1, ch. 87-307; s. 1, ch. 87-319; s. 7, ch. 88-168; s. 2, ch. 88-387; s. 1, ch. 89-117; s. 9, ch. 89-174; s. 2, ch. 89-276; s. 9, ch. 90-217; s. 1, ch. 90-234; s. 5, ch. 91-56; s. 3, ch. 92-288; s. 28, ch. 94-218; s. 2, ch. 94-240; s. 3, ch. 94-273; s. 66, ch. 94-356; s. 842, ch. 95-148; s. 2, ch. 95-349; s. 14, ch. 96-398; s. 109, ch. 96-406; s. 14, ch. 96-420; s. 25, ch. 98-280; s. 9, ch. 99-4; s. 32, ch. 99-13; s. 10, ch. 2000-308; s. 87, ch. 2001-266; s. 272, ch. 2003-261; s. 1, ch. 2003-394; s. 59, ch. 2003-399; s. 106, ch. 2006-120; s. 3, ch. 2008-229.