(1) The owner or owners in fee of any improved real property qualified as historically significant pursuant to paragraph (6)(a), and so designated by formal resolution of the governing body of the county within which the property is located, may by appropriate instrument:
(a) Convey all rights to develop the property to the governing body of the county in which such property is located; or
(b) Enter into a covenant running with the land for a term of not less than 10 years with the governing body of the county in which the property is located that the property shall not be used for any purpose inconsistent with historic preservation or the historic qualities of the property.
(2)(a) The governing body of each county is authorized and empowered in its discretion, subject to the provisions of paragraph (6)(b), to accept any instrument conveying a development right or establishing a covenant pursuant to subsection (1); and, if such instrument is accepted by the governing body, it shall be promptly filed with the appropriate officer for recording in the same manner as any other instrument affecting title to real property.
(b) Before accepting any instrument pursuant to this section, the governing body of the county shall seek the counsel and advice of the governing body of the municipality in which the property lies, if any, as to the merit of such acceptance.
(3) When, pursuant to this section, the development right in historically significant property has been conveyed to the governing body of the county or a covenant for historic preservation has been executed and accepted by such body, the real property subject to such conveyance or covenant shall be assessed at fair market value; however, the appraiser shall recognize the nature and length of the restriction placed on the use of the property under the provisions of the conveyance or covenant.
(4)(a) During the unexpired term of a covenant executed pursuant to this section, the owner of the property subject thereto shall not use the property in any manner inconsistent with historic preservation or the historic character of the property without first obtaining a written instrument from the governing body of the county releasing the owner from the terms of the covenant. Such instrument shall be promptly recorded in the same manner as any other instrument affecting the title to real property. Upon obtaining the approval of the board for release, the property will be subject to a deferred tax liability. The release shall be made to the owner upon payment of the deferred tax liability. Any payment of the deferred tax liability shall be payable to the county tax collector within 90 days of the date of approval of the release by the board. The tax collector shall distribute the payment to each governmental unit in the proportion that its millage bears to the total millage levied on the parcel for the years in which the covenant was in effect.
(b) After a covenant executed pursuant to this section has expired, the property previously subject to the covenant will be subject to a deferred tax liability, payable as provided in paragraph (a), within 90 days of the date of such expiration.
(5) The governing body of any county which holds title to a development right pursuant to this section shall not convey that right to anyone and shall not exercise that right in any manner inconsistent with historic preservation. No property for which the development right has been conveyed to the governing body of the county shall be used for any purpose inconsistent with historic preservation or the historic qualities of the property.
(6)(a) Improved real property shall be qualified as historically significant only if:
1. The property is listed on the national register of historic places pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, 16 U.S.C. s. 470; or is within a certified locally ordinanced district pursuant to s. 48(g)(3)(B)(ii), Internal Revenue Code; or has been found to be historically significant in accordance with the intent of and for purposes of this section by the Division of Historical Resources existing under chapter 267, or any successor agency, or by the historic preservation board existing under chapter 266, if any, in the jurisdiction of which the property lies; and
2. The owner of the property has applied to such division or board for qualification pursuant to this section.
(b) It is the legislative intent that property be qualified as historically significant pursuant to paragraph (a) only when it is of such unique or rare historic character or significance that a clear and substantial public benefit is provided by virtue of its preservation.
(7) A covenant executed pursuant to this section shall, at a minimum, contain the following restrictions:
(a) No use shall be made of the property which in the judgment of the covenantee or the division or board is inconsistent with the historic qualities of the property.
(b) In any restoration or repair of the property, the architectural features of the exterior shall be retained consistent with the historic qualities of the property.
(c) The property shall not be permitted to deteriorate and shall be maintained in good repair and condition to the extent necessary to preserve the historic value and significance of the property.
(d) The covenant shall include provisions for periodic access by the public to the property.
(8) For the purposes of this section, the term “deferred tax liability” means an amount equal to the difference between the total amount of taxes which would have been due in March in each of the previous years in which a covenant executed and accepted pursuant to this section was in effect if the property had been assessed under the provisions of s. 193.011 irrespective of any negative impact on fair market value that restrictions imposed pursuant to this section may have caused and the total amount of taxes actually paid in those years, plus interest on that difference computed as provided in s. 212.12(3).
(9)(a) For the purposes of assessment roll preparation and recordkeeping, the property appraiser shall report the assessed value of property subject to a conveyance or covenant pursuant to this section as its “classified use value” and shall annually determine and report as “just value” the fair market value of such property irrespective of any negative impact that restrictions imposed or conveyances made pursuant to this section may have had on such value.
(b) The property appraiser shall annually report to the department the just value and classified use value of property for which the development right has been conveyed separately from such values for property subject to a covenant.