2020 Florida Statutes
Conservation easement acquisition procedures.
Conservation easement acquisition procedures.
570.715 Conservation easement acquisition procedures.—
(1) For less than fee simple acquisitions pursuant to s. 570.71, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall comply with the following acquisition procedures:
(a) Before conveyance of title by the department, evidence of marketable title in the form of a commitment for title insurance or an abstract of title with a title opinion shall be obtained.
(b) Before approval by the board of trustees of an agreement to purchase less than fee simple title to land pursuant to s. 570.71, an appraisal of the parcel shall be required as follows:
1. 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. However, when both appraisals exceed $1 million and differ significantly, a third appraisal may be obtained.
2. Appraisal fees and associated costs shall be paid by the department. All appraisals used for the acquisition of less than fee simple interest in lands pursuant to this section shall be prepared by a state-certified appraiser who meets the standards and criteria established by rule of the board of trustees. Each appraiser selected to appraise a particular parcel shall, before contracting with the department or a participant in a multiparty agreement, submit to the department or participant an affidavit substantiating that he or she has no vested or fiduciary interest in such parcel.
(c) A certified survey must be made that meets the minimum requirements for upland parcels established in the Standards of Practice for Land Surveying in Florida published by the department and that accurately portrays, to the greatest extent practicable, the condition of the parcel as it currently exists. The requirement for a certified survey may, in whole or in part, be waived by the board of trustees any time before acquisition of the less than fee simple interest. If an existing boundary map and description of a parcel are determined by the department to be sufficient for appraisal purposes, the department may temporarily waive the requirement for a survey until any time before conveyance of title to the parcel.
(d) On behalf of the board of trustees and before the appraisal of parcels approved for purchase under ss. 259.105(3)(i) and 570.71, the department may enter into option contracts to buy less than fee simple interest in such parcels. Any such option contract shall state that the final purchase price is subject to approval by the board of trustees and that the final purchase price may not exceed the maximum offer authorized by law. Any such option contract presented to the board of trustees for final purchase price approval shall explicitly state that payment of the final purchase price is subject to an appropriation by the Legislature. The consideration for any such option contract may not exceed $1,000 or 0.01 percent of the estimate by the department of the value of the parcel, whichever amount is greater.
(e) A final offer shall be in the form of an option contract or agreement for purchase of the less than fee simple interest and shall be signed and attested to by the owner and the department. Before the department signs the agreement for purchase of the less than fee simple interest or exercises the option contract, the requirements of s. 286.23 shall be complied with.
(f) The procedures provided in s. 253.025(9)(a)-(d) and (10) shall be followed.
(2) If the public’s interest is reasonably protected, the board of trustees may:
(a) Waive any requirement of this section.
(b) Waive any rules adopted pursuant to s. 570.71, notwithstanding chapter 120.
(c) Substitute any other reasonably prudent procedures, including federally mandated acquisition procedures, for the procedures in this section, if federal funds are available and will be used for the purchase of a less than fee simple interest in lands, title to which will vest in the board of trustees, and qualification for such federal funds requires compliance with federally mandated acquisition procedures.
(3) The less than fee simple land acquisition procedures provided in this section are for voluntary, negotiated acquisitions.
(4) For purposes of this section, the term “negotiations” does not include preliminary contacts with the property owner to determine availability or eligibility of the property, existing appraisal data, existing abstracts, and surveys.
(5) Appraisal reports are confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1), for use by the department and the board of trustees, until an option contract is executed or, if an option contract is not executed, until 2 weeks before a contract or agreement for purchase is considered for approval by the board of trustees. However, the department has the authority, at its discretion, to disclose appraisal reports to private landowners during negotiations for acquisitions using alternatives to fee simple techniques, if the department determines that disclosure of such reports will bring the proposed acquisition to closure. The department may also 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 multiparty agreement with the department. For purposes of this subsection, the term “nonprofit organization” means an organization whose purposes include the preservation of natural resources, and which is exempt from federal income tax under s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The department may release an appraisal report when the passage of time has rendered the conclusions of value in the report invalid or when the department has terminated negotiations.
History.—s. 4, ch. 94-240; s. 852, ch. 95-148; s. 5, ch. 96-389; s. 115, ch. 96-406; s. 12, ch. 98-336; s. 19, ch. 99-247; s. 12, ch. 2008-229; s. 27, ch. 2016-233.
Note.—Subsection (5) former s. 259.041(7).