|Some folks want us to start the fee simple battle all over again........|
The PNJ has a story out on the electronic edition today about the return of the fee simple bill that would allow for private ownership of leased properties at Pensacola Beach.
The Escambia Board of County Commissioners has taken a 5-0 vote to adopt a position on this topic of "no position."
We also passed a preservation ordinance that was the result of a lot of discussions, compromises, and gnashing of teeth.
We then put a non-binding referendum on the ballot-- just a few weeks back--- that passed by an overwhelming majority of Escambia Citizens.
So no, I do not think the fee simple bill is coming back. That's my guess, that's my observation.
I'm told that Santa Rosa County is pushing hard for a return to the fee simple bill so that property owners in Navarre Beach can get fee simple title to their properties out there.
I don't know how that happens if step one is getting Escambia County to agree. This will be an interesting conversation going forward.
For my part, I just want to see us get to a point where the lease structure is more equitable for current leaseholders out on the beach, I want to make sure no more condo complexes get the sweetheart renewal deal the Beach Club recently negotiated (to the detriment of Escambia County as the owner
of that property) and I want to insure that there is equity between and among the various current lease holders (e.g. some properties are paying tax on land and improvements--and lease fees, some properties are not...some condo's have negotiated bargain-basement lease fees on the property, and others pay much more).
To put it succinctly: The various leases currently in place are a hodge-podge mess. We need a standard renewal process and template that respects the property owners (the taxpayers of Escambia County) and lease fees for new renewals need to be at the market rate.
I've discussed this and have brought forward a plan, and now that the previous D4 commissioner has moved out of the seat, I would expect we will again tackle this issue.
It's not that hard, it's not that tough to fix--we just have to muster the will to fix it.
I believe it will happen within the next couple of years and it will be fair.