Section 380.0677, Florida Statutes 2004
1380.0677 Green Swamp Land Authority.--
(1) CREATION.--There is hereby created the Green Swamp Land Authority.
(2) MISSION.--The mission of the Green Swamp Land Authority shall be to balance the protection of the ecological values of the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern with the protection of private property rights and the interests of taxpayers through the acquisition of lands, or rights or interests in lands, from willing sellers within the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern. To that end, the authority is encouraged to coordinate with the Division of State Lands of the Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Communities Trust Program within the Department of Community Affairs, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and the St. Johns River Water Management District to identify, select, and acquire less-than-fee-simple interests or rights in parcels within the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern, as part of overall land acquisition efforts by the state and the districts. When the Department of Environmental Protection and the water management districts are planning to acquire parcels within the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern, they shall consider acquiring such parcels using alternatives to fee simple techniques in consultation with the land authority.
(3) POWERS; BUDGET; GOVERNOR'S APPROVAL OF PROPOSED ACQUISITIONS.--The Green Swamp Land Authority shall have all the powers pursuant to s. 380.0666, except that it may not issue bonds and must annually submit its budget to the Governor and the Legislature for review. In addition, the authority must annually submit a list of proposed acquisitions to the Governor for review and approval. The Governor may remove proposed acquisitions from the list, with cause, if the Governor determines such acquisitions would not further the mission of the authority. By September 5 of the fiscal year in which the authority's budget is submitted, the chairpersons of the appropriations committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives may transmit to the Governor and the authority comments on and objections to the proposed budget. The Governor shall respond in writing to the comments and objections.
(4) APPLICATION FOR LAND PROTECTION AGREEMENT; LIST OF PROPOSED ACQUISITIONS.--Owners of agricultural and other property within the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern shall have 3 years from the effective date of the land authority's rules to apply to the land authority concerning their interest in signing a land protection agreement restricting some or all of their rights to their land. A land protection agreement is a voluntarily negotiated instrument which may provide compensation to a landowner in return for the willingness of the landowner to accept restrictions or conditions on the use of the parcel of land, including the right to develop the land as defined in s. 380.04. The agreement shall include provisions for compliance and shall be recorded and indexed in the same manner as any other instrument affecting the title to real property. A land protection agreement signed by the fee simple owner does not confer with it the right of public access to the real property, unless public access is a right specified within the agreement. Selected applicants' properties shall be ranked on the authority's list of proposed acquisitions. Work shall continue on listed projects for which acquisition has begun but not closed within the 3-year period, until the acquisition is successfully completed. During the time the property remains on the authority's list of proposed acquisitions, and for 2 years thereafter, the property owner may not change the current use of the property.
(5) SELECTION; CRITERIA.--The authority shall develop a procedure for competitive selection of properties appropriate for land protection agreements. Selection criteria shall be based primarily on the water resource and ecological and environmental resource values of the parcels. Other factors may include the threat of impending development, and the historical significance of the property, or other factors determined to be relevant by the authority. Land protection agreements shall be voluntary. The price paid for restricting the rights or interests in land shall not exceed the appraised value of those rights or interests. The selected properties shall constitute a list of proposed acquisitions, to be updated annually.
(6) PROGRAM; CONSIDERATION.--The authority, with the assistance of the Southwest Florida and St. Johns River Water Management Districts, shall develop a land protection agreement program, including procedures for selecting, valuing, and monitoring to ensure compliance with the purposes of this section within the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern. The Southwest Florida and St. Johns River Water Management Districts may act as the acquisition agents for the land authority, and title to the lands, or interests or rights in lands, shall vest in the district where the acquisition project is located. Among the procedures shall be a process for determining the amount of consideration that may be paid for the willingness of a property owner to accept restrictions or conditions according to the terms of a land protection agreement. The authority shall make rules necessary to carry out this section. To encourage participation in the land protection agreement program and to create a sense of fairness, the land authority is directed in making rules to reflect changes in land values as a result of the designation of the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern and implementation of Polk and Lake Counties' comprehensive plans. Such rules shall be reviewed by the Southwest Florida and St. Johns River Water Management Districts.
(7) APPROPRIATIONS.--From funds appropriated to the Department of Environmental Protection for land acquisition from the Conservation and Recreation Lands Trust Fund for fiscal years 1994-1995, 1995-1996, and 1996-1997, $4 million shall be reserved each fiscal year to carry out the purposes of this section. To the extent practicable, moneys appropriated from the Conservation and Recreation Lands Trust Fund, Save Our Rivers Trust Fund, and Florida Communities Trust Fund shall be used to acquire lands, or interests or rights in lands, on the Conservation and Recreation Lands, Save Our Rivers, or Florida Communities Trust land acquisition plans or lists, as defined in s. 259.035, or a land acquisition plan under s. 373.59 or s. 380.508. However, nothing in this subsection prohibits the Green Swamp Land Authority from entering into land protection agreements with any property owner whose property is not on any of such lists. From sums appropriated to the Department of Environmental Protection from the Water Management District Lands Trust Fund for fiscal years 1994-1995, 1995-1996, and 1996-1997, $3 million shall be reserved each fiscal year to carry out the purposes of this section. Such amounts as are used from the Water Management District Lands Trust Fund shall be credited against the allocations as provided in s. 373.59 to the St. Johns River Water Management District or the Southwest Florida Water Management District in proportion to the amount of lands for which an interest was acquired, and shall not be required by a district for debt service payments or land management purposes. From funds appropriated to the Department of Community Affairs for the Florida Communities Trust Program from the Preservation 2000 Trust Fund for fiscal years 1994-1995 through 1999-2000, $3 million shall be reserved each fiscal year to carry out
the purposes of this section. Appropriations identified pursuant to this subsection shall fund the acquisition of lands, or the interests or rights in lands, and related costs of acquisition. Such funds shall be available for expenditure after the land authority has adopted rules to begin its program. Funds reserved pursuant to this subsection, for each of the referenced fiscal years, shall remain available for the purposes specified in this subsection for 24 months from the date on which such funds become available for disbursement. After such time has elapsed, any funds which are not legally obligated for expenditure shall be released for the lawful purposes for which they were otherwise appropriated.
(8) OWNERSHIP RIGHTS AND INTERESTS.--Ownership of any rights or interests which are conveyed through a land protection agreement shall vest in the Southwest Florida Water Management District or the St. Johns River Water Management District, based on where the acquisition project is located. The districts shall monitor the agreements under their respective jurisdictions to ensure compliance with the terms of the agreements, and shall provide the county property appraiser, the county tax collector, and the county manager with copies of land protection agreements that specify the deed restrictions on lands.
(9) USE OF PROPERTY AGREEMENT.--A private property owner who enters into a land protection agreement may use the property in any manner consistent with the terms of the agreement. A land protection agreement which limits the use of property to agriculture shall allow the owner to change from one agricultural activity to another unless otherwise prohibited by the provisions of the agreement. Unless otherwise stated, agreements shall not prohibit the construction or operation of: barns or other buildings necessary to agricultural activities, such as employment housing; hunting and fishing camps; or a specified number of single-family residences solely for the use of the property owner or the owner's family.
(10) TERMINATION OF LAND PROTECTION AGREEMENTS.--A fee simple owner of lands subject to a land protection agreement may petition the governing board of the water management district which holds title to the interests or rights in those lands to terminate the agreement. If the district finds that ownership of a parcel of land or interests or rights in a parcel of land acquired pursuant to this section is no longer needed to protect the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern, the district may dispose of the land, or interests or rights in the land, according to procedures adopted pursuant to s. 373.089.
(11) PROPERTY RIGHTS PROTECTED.--Nothing in this section shall be construed to abrogate the constitutionally protected property rights of private property owners within the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern, whether or not they choose to participate in the Green Swamp Land Authority's acquisition program.
History.--s. 5, ch. 94-212; s. 18, ch. 96-389; ss. 41, 51, ch. 99-247.
1Note.--Section 51, ch. 99-247, provided for deletion of the provision setting out the membership of the Green Swamp Land Authority and that "[h]enceforth, the Green Swamp Land Authority shall mean the Department of Environmental Protection for purposes of [s. 380.0677] and statutes related thereto."