(1) The department shall establish by rule procedures for a nonbinding preapplication review to assist a landowner in submitting a reclamation program request.
(2) Landowners shall reclaim all nonmandatory lands which were put into use as clay settling areas after July 1, 1975, and on or before July 1, 1984, under the nonmandatory land reclamation program, pursuant to the provisions of this act. A landowner shall submit a reclamation program application within 180 days after the land ceases to be used as a clay settling area. The requirements of this subsection are expressly contingent upon the availability of sufficient funds in the Nonmandatory Land Reclamation Trust Fund established pursuant to s. 211.3103.
(3)(a) Landowners shall submit reclamation program applications to the department by November 1 of each year for funding consideration during the following year.
(b) Each reclamation program application shall include a timetable for completion of the program and a completion date.
(4) The department staff shall review each reclamation program application to determine whether it complies with the standards and criteria for a reclamation program or for land acquisition and to determine its consistency with the master reclamation plan.
(5)(a) The department staff shall, by February 1 of each year, present to the committee for its consideration those reclamation program applications received by the preceding November 1.
(b) The department staff shall recommend an order of priority for the reclamation program applications that is consistent with subsection (6).
(c) The recommendation of the department staff shall include an estimate of the cost of each reclamation program or land acquisition.
(6) The committee shall recommend approval, modification, or denial of the reclamation program applications, associated cost estimates, and the department staff’s recommended prioritized list. Recommendations on the order of priority shall be based, among other criteria, on the following criteria; however, the committee may give greater weight to one or more of the criteria depending on the overall needs of the nonmandatory land reclamation program:
(a) Whether health and safety hazards exist; and, if so, such hazards shall be given the greatest weight;
(b) Whether the economic or environmental utility or the aesthetic value of the land will return naturally within a reasonable period of time;
(c) Whether there is a reasonable geographic and applicant diversity in light of previously awarded reclamation contracts, reclamation program applications before the committee, and the remaining eligible lands;
(d) Whether reclamation is in the public interest;
(e) Whether the land has been naturally reclaimed or is eligible for acquisition by the state for hunting, fishing, or other outdoor recreation purposes or for wildlife preservation;
(f) Whether the land is to be reclaimed for agricultural use and the applicant has agreed to maintain the land in agricultural use for at least 5 years after the completion of the reclamation;
(g) Whether the program, alone or in conjunction with other reclamation programs, will provide a substantial regional benefit;
(h) Whether the program, alone or in conjunction with other reclamation programs, will benefit regional drainage patterns;
(i) Whether the land is publicly owned and will be reclaimed for public purposes;
(j) Whether the program includes a donation or agreement to sell a portion of the program application area to the state for outdoor recreational or wildlife habitat protection purposes;
(k) Whether the program is cost-effective in achieving the goals of the nonmandatory land reclamation program; and
(l) Whether the program will reclaim lands described in subsection (2).
(7) The prioritized list approved by the committee may contain more reclamation program applications than there are funds available during the year.
(8) Each year, 15 percent of the funds available for approved reclamation contracts, as set forth in subsection (7), shall be reserved for reclamation programs which are submitted by applicants other than corporations primarily engaged in the mining or processing of phosphate ores to create lands to be actively used for agricultural activities. In the event that, in any given year, there are insufficient applicants that meet the department criteria for approval to use the funds reserved under this subsection, the remaining moneys may be made available to other applicants.
(9) The committee recommendations shall be submitted to the secretary by April 1 of each year for final agency action by June 1 of that year. The secretary shall approve, in whole or in part, the list of reclamation program applications in the order of priority in which the applications are presented.
(10) Any approved reclamation program application that was not funded shall, at the request of the applicant, be considered by the committee at its next meeting called for that purpose, together with other reclamation program applications received by November 1 of the next year.
(11)(a) After receiving the approval of the secretary, the department shall offer a reclamation contract to an applicant within 30 days after the applicant’s reclamation program has been approved. The contracts shall be offered to the applicants in their approved order on the priority list to the extent funds are available. Each applicant shall have 30 days in which to execute a reclamation contract. If the contract is not executed within 30 days, the application shall be dropped from the approved list for the current year.
(b) Reclamation contracts may not be signed and available funds may not be committed after June 30 of the year in which a reclamation program application is approved by the secretary.
(c) The amount of reimbursement for reclamation activities allowed in the contract shall be a grant of money equal to the estimated cost of the program as approved by the secretary. In no event, however, shall the grant amount exceed the maximum amounts specified in s. 378.037(1)(b). (d) After receiving the approval of the Governor and Cabinet, each reclamation program application for the acquisition of land shall be transferred to the Division of State Lands, which shall acquire the lands in compliance with the acquisition procedures of s. 253.025.
(12) The department shall require by rule that owners of eligible properties who intend to seek approval of a reclamation program submit, not later than December 31, 1993, a notice of intent to file an application for approval, indicating the date upon which the application will be filed.