The following article can be found in the latest edition of the Island Times. PBA encourages all members to reach out to your Congressmen and Senators -- if you want fee simple title you need to let them know!
Island Times -- Congressman Jeff Miller introduced a bill March 18 in the House of Representatives that would give Escambia County the ability to offer Fee Simple title to beach leaseholders. The bill, which is H. R. 1452, is similar to the bill that passed the House in February 2014, except this bill has gained Senator Marco Rubio’s support.
“Santa Rosa Island residents should have title to properties they are already taxed on, and this bill intends to remove obstacles the government has put up in the way of this,” Rubio said. “With the input of offi cials in the region and impacted members of the community, we’ve developed this solution to provide people with options to the land so they can move on with their lives.”
Last year’s bill passed the house and languished in the Committee. H.R. 1452 has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources which will consider it before sending it to the House fl oor for consideration.
The Senate’s version, S 770, was introduced by Senator Rubio on March 18. This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources which will consider it before sending it to the Senate fl oor for consideration.
After the court battles contesting the taxation of leasehold property and improvements made their way through the legal system, leaseholders were faced with the burden of paying both taxes and lease fees. The conveyance of Fee Simple title would in essence make leases void.
When Santa Rosa Island was originally deeded to Escambia County, the County could only lease the land, not sell it. The restriction on use and conveyance would be lifted if this bill passes the Legislature.
“This is a fairness issue,” said Miller. “This legislation will help to ensure that leaseholders currently paying taxes and living and working on Santa Rosa Island have the choice to attain title to their land, while also upholding current conservation agreements and public access to the island’s beaches.”
Included in the bill: Escambia County would have the ability to offer Fee Simple title to leaseholders but would not be able to charge more than it costs to administer the transfer. Leaseholders would not be compelled to take title.
Escambia County will have to convey Navarre Beach to Santa Rosa County.
Escambia County and Santa Rosa County shall in perpetuity preserve those areas on Santa Rosa Island currently dedicated to conservation, preservation, public, recreation, access and public parking in accordance with resolutions heretofore adopted by the Board of County Commissioners of each respective county.
Pensacola Beach Advocates Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Terry Preston asked fellow islanders and interested parties to contact elected offi cials to voice their support of the proposed legislation.
Contact Senator Marco Rubio: http://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact 202-225-4136
Contact Senator Bill Nelson: http://www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill 202-224-5274
Contact Congressman Jeff Miller: https://jeffmiller.house.gov/contact/contactform.htm 202-225-4136
Readers can track the progress of H.R. 1452 online at https://www.govtrack.us