Title: Business Owner Told His Land Now Belongs to the State
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00002229/00001
 Material Information
Title: Business Owner Told His Land Now Belongs to the State
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Okeechobee News
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Business Owner Told His Land Now Belongs to the State, October 18, 1992
General Note: Box 10, Folder 10 ( SF Water Resources Historical Collection - 1988 ), Item 10
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00002229
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

Okeechobee News, Sunday, October 18, 1992

Business owner told his land

now belongs to the state

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, J.W. Lunsford
was taking care of business at the Oasis
MarinaJust as he has been doing for nearly
three decades. Mr. Lunsford's business is
located on State Road 60 at the Kissimmee
River bridge which separates Osceola and
Polk counties.
The door opened, a man entered, asked
for the owner, and changed J.W.'s life when
he presented him with a
letter which began,
Tour facility has been
identified as using W ho
state-owned svereign-
ty submerged lands PF i
without the State Board
of Trstee of the Inter-
nal Umprorement pFnd
atherisation which i
required. Therefore,
action must be taken
Immediately by the
upland owner to applF
for a retroactive sub- .
merged lau lease."
As Mr. Lunsford read SQVi1 0tf
on the next sentences
made his worst night- By Twiah
mare a reality.
"An application to
effect this necessary
action must be completed. Please contact
the Division of State Lands field office serv-
ing your county to obtain specific informa-
tion as to the requirements that must be
met. If the application and all Information
and materials requested by the DSL Field
office are not provided within the specific
time frames, request will not be considered
complete. The department will take legal
action to prevent continued operations
involving the unauthorized use of state-
owned submerged lands and to require

removal of all structures and equipment
from the state-owned area."
The messenger, Ted Preston, an investi-
gator for the Florida Department of Natural
Resources, told him he had to sign the let-
ter and that he had no choice. He said he
had to have J.W.'s signature on the letter to
prove he had delivered it
111 tell you what you can do. You came
in that door and you
can go out that door,"
oWrs J.W. said he told the
owns man. When he refused
to sign the letter, Mr.
Ida? Preston told him that
he was being hard to
get along with.
"I should be," J.W.
Fifth In told him. "I own this
a place. ve paid taxes on
it for 28.years. The
OH the state of Florida sold it
history 105 years ago. I have a
rnds and the deed from the state of
Florida dated in 1885."
ISSUe "Whoever wrote this
letter, never signed it."
Valentine, J.W. said. He said
when he made this
known, the man went
to his truck and came
back in with names and phone numbers of
two men to contact, T. Wilkerson of the
Bureau of Survey and Mapping and Todd
Vandenberg in the Tampa field office of the
Bureau of Submerged Lands.
Two weeks later, the marina operator
had still not made contact with either of the
two men.
J.W. has turned the matter over to his
attorney and he intends to fight the case.
"The deed and the abstract for the Oasis
says that I own the south 410 feet of U.S.



Government Lot 7, to the banks of the
Kissimmee River and the riparian rights to
the center of the river." he said. "It doesn't
say anything about any other agency.
Everyone who has come out here, the
Corps of Engineers, the county (Polk) start-
ed at the northwest corner of the Klssim-
mee River and out the north northeast
direction and set the stake (in about four
feet of water) and said that's your line. If I
file an application to be grandfathered In. I
will be saying there Is a possibility that they
own it I will be admitting it You cant do
that. There Is no way I can apply for It I
may not have anything when I get through.
but we're going to fight it. rm not going to
give in to them."
He told his story to the board of direc-
tors meeting of ROAR (Realists Opposed to
Alleged Restoration) on Saturday, a grass
roots organization which formed a year ago
to oppose the backflling of the C-38 Canal.
known as the Kissimmee River. The Oasis
marina is located at the mouth of the river
where Lake Kissimmee narrows to form the
The heart of the issue In all of this Is
exactly what constitutes the "ordinary high
water mark" as it existed in 1845. The vari-
ous state agencies, the Florida Department
of Environmental Regulations, the Florida
Department of Natural Resources and the
State Attorney General's office claim that
lands which lie below the ordinary high
water mark are "sovereign" or state-owned
"The greater implication with what is
happening with J.W. and the Implications
for us and everyone st that the state has
finally decided what the high water mark is
and their stand is that anything that is
under that mark is sovereign land." said
Zee Wildeman, a member of the ROAR

board. "That puts a lot of us in the very
dangerous position ofwhere they can come
in and say, If you don't sell it for 20 cents
on the dollar, or 10 cents on the dollar, or
whatever we want to give you, we can take
It from you because It belongs to us. Your
very constitutional rights to own your own
property and to keep your own property are
being threatened by the people you have
elected to govern. There is something very,
very seriously wrong."
'This has been an issue with us since
ROARs inception," said Susan Marrn presi-
dent of ROAR. "I have talked to a lot of the
people on (Lake) Hatchineha and Lake
Kissimmee. They flatly are Just not real
concerned. These are members of ROAR
It's great to talk about getting everyone else
stirred up, but what do we do to get our
own members stirred up and to get the
people who are affected stirred up?"
She said that they Just don't understand
they are at risk. The homeowners who live
south of U.S. 98 have been lulled into a
false sense of security that their homes
aren't being taken by South Florida Water
Management District.
When the 1992 Water Resources
Act passed Congress on Oct. 8, the
authorization for the restoration of
the Kissimmee River is for the origi-
nal plan as submitted by the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers. Jacque-
line Griffin, public information offi-
cer for the Corps at their Jack-
sonville office, said to her knowl-
edge, there were no plans to scale
back the project from the way it was
submitted to Congress. She said the
only changes were those which were
optional and which were going to be
paid for the South Florida Water
Management District.

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