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The Florida Statutes

The 2017 Florida Statutes

Title XVIII
PUBLIC LANDS AND PROPERTY
Chapter 253
STATE LANDS
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F.S. 253.025
253.025 Acquisition of state lands.
(1)(a) The Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund or its duly authorized agent may not commit the state, through any instrument of negotiated contract or agreement for purchase, to the purchase of lands with or without appurtenances unless this section has been fully complied with.
(b) Except for the requirements of subsections (4), (11), and (22), if the public’s interest is reasonably protected, the board of trustees may:
1. Waive any requirements of this section.
2. Waive any rules adopted pursuant to this section, notwithstanding chapter 120.
3. Substitute other reasonably prudent procedures.
(c) The board of trustees may also substitute federally mandated acquisition procedures for the provisions of this section if federal funds are available and will be used 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.
(d) Notwithstanding this section, 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.
(e) The title to lands acquired pursuant to this section shall vest in the board of trustees pursuant to s. 253.03(1) unless otherwise provided by law, and all such titled lands shall be administered pursuant to s. 253.03.
(2) Before any state agency initiates any land acquisition, except for 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) The board of trustees is authorized to adopt rules to implement this section, including rules governing the terms and conditions of land purchases. The rules shall address, with specificity, but need not be limited to:
(a) The procedures to be followed in the acquisition process, including selection of appraisers, surveyors, title agents, and closing agents, and the content of appraisal reports.
(b) The determination of the value of parcels which the state has an interest in acquiring.
(c) Special requirements when multiple landowners are involved in an acquisition.
(d) Requirements for obtaining written option agreements so that the interests of the state are fully protected.
(4) An agreement to acquire real property for the purposes described in this chapter, chapter 259, chapter 260, or chapter 375, title to which will vest in the board of trustees, may not bind the state before the agreement is reviewed and approved by the Department of Environmental Protection as complying with this section and any rules adopted pursuant to this section. If any of the following conditions exist, the agreement shall be submitted to and approved by the board of trustees:
(a) The purchase price agreed to by the seller exceeds the value as established pursuant to the rules of the board of trustees;
(b) The contract price agreed to by the seller and the acquiring agency exceeds $1 million;
(c) The acquisition is the initial purchase in a Florida Forever project; or
(d) Other conditions that the board of trustees may adopt by rule. Such conditions may include, but are not limited to, Florida Forever projects when title to the property being acquired is considered nonmarketable or is encumbered in such a way as to significantly affect its management.

If approval of the board of trustees is required pursuant to this subsection, the acquiring agency must provide a justification as to why it is in the public’s interest to acquire the parcel or Florida Forever project. Approval of the board of trustees is also required for Florida Forever projects the department recommends acquiring pursuant to subsections (11) and (22). Review and approval of agreements for acquisitions for Florida Greenways and Trails Program properties pursuant to chapter 260 may be waived by the department in any contract with nonprofit corporations that have agreed to assist the department with this program. If the contribution of the acquiring agency exceeds $100 million in any one fiscal year, the agreement shall be submitted to and approved by the Legislative Budget Commission.

(5) Land acquisition procedures provided for in this section are for voluntary, negotiated acquisitions.
(6) 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.
(7) Evidence of marketable title shall be provided by the landowner before 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, if 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.
(8) Before approval by the board of trustees, or, when applicable, the Department of Environmental Protection, of any agreement to purchase land pursuant to this chapter, chapter 259, chapter 260, or chapter 375, and before negotiations with the parcel owner to purchase any other land, title to which will vest in the board of trustees, an appraisal of the parcel shall be required as follows:
(a) 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.
(b) 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, if both appraisals exceed $1 million and differ significantly, a third appraisal may be obtained. If 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, an appraisal prepared by the division, 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.
(c) Appraisal fees and associated costs shall be paid by the agency proposing the acquisition. All appraisals used for the acquisition of lands pursuant to this section shall be prepared 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, before contracting with the agency or a participant in a multiparty agreement, submit to the agency an affidavit substantiating that he or she has no vested or fiduciary interest in such parcel.
(d) The fee appraiser and the review appraiser for the agency may not act in any manner that may be construed as negotiating with the owner of a parcel proposed for acquisition.
(e) 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 Standards of Practice for Land Surveying in Florida published by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services 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 before 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 before conveyance of title to the parcel.
(f) Appraisal reports are confidential and exempt from 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. The Department of Environmental Protection may 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. However, the private landowner must agree to maintain the confidentiality of the reports or information. 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 agreement with the department to purchase and hold property for subsequent resale to the board of trustees. In addition, the department may use, as its own, appraisals obtained by a public agency or nonprofit organization, if the appraiser is selected from the department’s list of appraisers and the appraisal is reviewed and approved by the department. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “nonprofit organization” means an organization that is exempt from federal income tax under s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and, for purposes of the acquisition of conservation lands, an organization whose purpose must include the preservation of natural resources. The agency may release an appraisal report when the passage of time has rendered the conclusions of value in the report invalid or when the acquiring agency has terminated negotiations.
(g) Before acceptance of an appraisal, the agency shall submit a copy of such report to the division. The division shall review such report for compliance with the rules of the board. Any questions of applicability of laws affecting an appraisal shall be addressed by the legal office of the agency.
(h) The appraisal report shall be accompanied by the sales history of the parcel for at least the previous 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 it is 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.
(i) 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.
(j)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. An offer by a state agency may not 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. For 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 in subparagraph 1. The state agency share of a joint purchase offer may not exceed what the agency may offer singly pursuant to subparagraph 1.
3. This paragraph does not apply to the acquisition of historically unique or significant property as determined by the Division of Historical Resources of the Department of State.

Notwithstanding this subsection, on behalf of the board of trustees and before the appraisal of parcels approved for purchase under this chapter or chapter 259, the Secretary of Environmental Protection or the director of the Division of State Lands may enter into option contracts to buy such parcels. Any such option contract shall state that the final purchase price is subject to approval by the board of trustees or, if applicable, the Secretary of Environmental Protection, and that the final purchase price may not exceed the maximum offer allowed 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 from the Legislature. The consideration for such an option 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.

(9)(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, surveying, mapping, environmental audits, title work, and legal and other professional assistance to review acquisition agreements and other documents and to perform acquisition closings. However, the Department of Environmental Protection may use outside counsel to review any agreements or documents or to perform acquisition closings unless department staff can conduct the same activity in 15 days or less.
(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 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) 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.
(f) The state shall have the authority to reimburse the owner for the cost of the survey when deemed appropriate. The reimbursement is not considered a part of the purchase price.
(g) 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 Department of Environmental Protection 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.
(h) Within 45 days after receipt by the Department of Environmental Protection of the agreement for purchase and the required documentation, the board of trustees or, if the purchase price does not exceed $100,000, its designee shall 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.
(10)(a) A dedication, gift, grant, or bequest of lands and appurtenances may not 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 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) A deed filed in the public records to donate lands to the board of trustees does not transfer title to or vest title in the board of trustees unless a document indicating that the board of trustees has agreed to accept the transfer of title to such donated lands is also filed in the public records.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the maximum value of a parcel to be purchased by the board of trustees as determined by the highest approved appraisal or as determined pursuant to the rules of the board of trustees may not be increased or decreased as a result of a change in zoning or permitted land uses, or changes in market forces or prices that occur within 1 year after the date the Department of Environmental Protection or the board of trustees approves a contract to purchase the parcel.
(11) Notwithstanding this section, the board of trustees, by an affirmative vote of at least three members, voting at a regularly scheduled and advertised meeting, may direct the Department of Environmental Protection to exercise the power of eminent domain pursuant to chapters 73 and 74 to acquire any conservation parcel identified on the acquisition list established by the Acquisition and Restoration Council and approved by the board of trustees pursuant to chapter 259. However, the board of trustees may only make such a vote under the following circumstances:
(a) The state has made at least two bona fide offers to purchase the land through negotiation and, notwithstanding those offers, an impasse between the state and the landowner was reached.
(b) The land is of special importance to the state because of one or more of the following reasons:
1. It involves an endangered or natural resource and is in imminent danger of development.
2. It is of unique value to the state and the failure to acquire it will result in irreparable loss to the state.
3. The failure of the state to acquire it will seriously impair the state’s ability to manage or protect other state-owned lands.

Pursuant to this subsection, the department may exercise condemnation authority directly or by contracting with the Department of Transportation or a water management district to provide that service. If the Department of Transportation or a water management district enters into such a contract with the department, the Department of Transportation or a water management district may use statutorily approved methods and procedures ordinarily used by the agency for condemnation purposes.

(12) 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.
(13) 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.
(14) 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 after the board of trustees’ final approval 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.
(15) 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 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.
(16)(a) The board of trustees may deed property to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, so that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is 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 (7)-(10) and (12). 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 (7)-(10) and (12), the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is excluded from following the provisions of this chapter and chapters 259 and 375. This exclusion does not apply to lands acquired for conservation purposes in accordance with s. 253.0341(1) or (2).
(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 be deposited into the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Incidental Trust Fund. The Legislature may, at the request of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, appropriate such money within the trust fund to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services 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 pursuant to this subsection shall be deposited into the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Incidental Trust Fund.
(c) Additional funds may be added from time to time by the Legislature to further the relocation and construction of forestry facilities. If 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.
(17) 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.
(18) 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. The provisions of paragraphs (8)(c), (e), and (f) and (9)(b), (c), and (d) apply to all appraisals, offers, and counteroffers of the Department of Corrections for state correctional facility sites.
(19) 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 any cattle-dipping vats.
(20) 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. The provisions of paragraphs (8)(c), (e), and (f) and (9)(b), (c), and (d) apply to all appraisals, offers, and counteroffers of the Department of Juvenile Justice for state juvenile justice facility sites.
(21) The board of trustees may acquire, pursuant to s. 288.980(2)(b), nonconservation lands from the annual list submitted by the Department of Economic Opportunity for the purpose of buffering a military installation against encroachment.
(22) The board of trustees, by an affirmative vote of at least three members, may direct the department to purchase lands on an immediate basis using up to 15 percent of the funds allocated to the department pursuant to s. 259.105 for the acquisition of lands that:
(a) Are listed or placed at auction by the Federal Government as part of the Resolution Trust Corporation sale of lands from failed savings and loan associations;
(b) Are listed or placed at auction by the Federal Government as part of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation sale of lands from failed banks; or
(c) Will be developed or otherwise lost to potential public ownership, or for which federal matching funds will be lost, by the time the land can be purchased under the program within which the land is listed for acquisition.

For such acquisitions, the board of trustees may waive or modify all procedures required for land acquisition pursuant to this chapter and all competitive bid procedures required pursuant to chapters 255 and 287. Lands acquired pursuant to this subsection must, at the time of purchase, be on one of the acquisition lists established pursuant to chapter 259, or be essential for water resource development, protection, or restoration, or a significant portion of the lands must contain natural communities or plant or animal species that are listed by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory as critically imperiled, imperiled, or rare, or as excellent quality occurrences of natural communities.

(23) Title to lands to be held jointly by the board of trustees and a water management district and acquired pursuant to s. 373.139 may be deemed to meet the standards necessary for ownership by the board of trustees, notwithstanding this section or related rules.
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; s. 1, ch. 2013-222; s. 12, ch. 2014-43; s. 4, ch. 2016-233.