SOUTHWEST FLORIDA WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT OFFICE MEMORANDUM
FROM: E. D. VERGARA, Director, Department of Interagency Coordination
S5060 U.S. HIGHWAY 41, SOUTH BROOKSVILLE, FLORIDA 33512
\- PHONE (904) 796-7211
DERRILL McATEER, Chairman. Brooksvillle NICK FENDER, Tampa CLIFF STEPHENS. Clearwater
E ROBERT MARTINEZ. Vice Chairman. Tampa HELEN THOMPSON. St. Petrcburg WM. O. STUBBS. Dade City
N. BROOKS JOHNS. Secrclary. Laketand B. T. LONGINO. Sarasota
RONALD B. LAMBERT, Treasurer, Wauchula ER. Executive Director
January 12, 1979
The Honorable Robert E. Melby <
Florida House of Representatives
Tallahassee, FL 32304
Dear Representative Melby:
The questions you ask about the Green Swamp in your letter of January 4, 1979,
get right to the heart of the many complex issues surrounding the area's desig-
nation as an Area of Critical State Concern (ACSC). At this point, I can assure
you we do not have all the answers, but perhaps what we do know can be of
assistance to you.
Yes, we feel the Green Swamp is of such significant value that parts of it should
be protected. It's important to be specific, however, when referring to the
Green Swamp because the entire area, as delineated by the U. S..Geological Survey,
consists of some 870 square miles which is much larger than the area now under
the ACSC designation. It would be impractical to say that this entire area needs
to be purchased by the state.
It's our understanding that the court ruled the Cabinet was not specific enough
in its reasons for declaring the Green Swamp an ACSC. This lack of specificity is
probably due to the complexity of the area's hydrology and general lack of hard
data that would tell us exactly what the impact would be if all or even part of the
entire area were to be developed.
We do know that the area is a vast habitat for both plant and animal wildlife.
We know it is an area where the potentiometric surface of the Floridan Aquifer
reaches one of its highest points and consequently represents an important source
of artesian pressure.
We know that recharge occurs efficiently in some areas while it does not in others.
Paradoxically we are finding the greatest rates of recharge occur in the "higher"
sandy hills that would seem most suitable for development.
We know that the area generally represents the source-waters for four major rivers.
Should the area be developed, it would require extensive drainage that could result
in significant changes to the height and frequency of ;1ood stages on these rivers.
THe Honorable Robert E. Melby 2 January 12, 1979
One major concern of ours, for example, would be its effect upon flood elevations
on the Hillsborough River which flows through the highly urbanized Tampa Bay area.
Federal, state and local taxpayers have already invested over $50 million to provide
flood protection via the Tampa Bypass Canal. Within the Green Swamp area and im-
mediately adjacent to the designated area (a small portion is actually within the
designated area) we are in the process of acquiring a total of 82,632 acres. The
land will be used as a flood detention area (to temporarily detain flood flows) in
conjunction with the Four River Basins flood control project. The Tampa Bypass
Canal is part of this same project. As of October 1, 1978, we have acquired 69,014
acres with about 13,618 remaining.
We also believe the Green Swamp area could be an important source of water for
The crux of the matter is, how will development impact these fragile characteristics
of the area; and, can development be controlled in such a manner that its impact
will be minimal?
The Joint Select Committee to Study Areas of Critical State Concern has adopted
certain goals or objectives and identified a number of issues they intend to
analyze (see attached memo from the Senate and House Natural Resources Committees'
staff directors). Both Bill Preston and Jack Merriam have been in contact with us
and we have sent them what additional data has been developed on the area since the
As you can see, the Select Committee is also concerned about the compensation
question. I'm sure they'll be discussing such alternatives as outright land pur-
chases, purchase of development rights and tax breaks, among others.
I hope this will be of some help to you. As you can see, the matter is complex and
answers are going to be difficult. Please feel free to contact us further if we
can be of assistance.
DONALD R. FEASTER, P. E.
cc: Governing Board
Rep. John Lewis, Chairman, Joint Select Committee on Area of Critical
Enclosure: "A Look at the Southwest Florida Water Management District"
"Despite Confusion, Lots in Green Swamp Selling Well," from
Lakeland Ledger, January 7, 1979
M E M 0 R A N D U M
TO: Members, Joint Select Committee
to Study Areas of Critical State Concern
FROM: Bill Preston, Staff Director/Senate Natural Resources
and Conservation Committee'ij/6;
Jack Merriam, Staff Director, House Natural Resources
DATE: January 4, 1979
For discussion purposes at the initial meeting of this
committee, we have attempted to formulate, in an outline fashion,
specific issues for the committee to consider on this subject.
Additionally, it may be worthwhile for the committee to set general
goals or objectives which it hopes to accomplish between now and
March 15. Along those lines, we have included some suggestions
for your consideration as well.
Of course, we don't mean to suggest that these are the
only issues involved or that the committee necessarily needs to
conduct an in-depth analysis of each. Rather, viewing the rela-
tively short time for the committee to accomplish its work, you
may wish to rank the issues you select for study or at least estab-
lish priority items. Then, if time permits, some of the less
crucial issues can be studied as well.
As specific goals or objectives of the committee, consider
1. Determine whether the state needs to protect environ-
mentally sensitive parts of the state through an area
of critical state concern program.
2. Determine whether the Green Swamp and Florida Keys are
worthy of continuing designation as areas of critical
3. Determine whether remedial legislation is needed to
amend or retain the existing area of critical state
concern process (this will likely hinge on what the
committee decides on (1) and (2) above). If such
legislation is needed, draft and recommend a specific
bill or bills.
Various issues which we believe relate to these more
general goals and objectives are the following:
1. What alternatives or options are there between the
extremes of either designating or not designating
formal areas of critical state concern (eg. the less
rigid program to attempt to protect the Appalachicola
River corridor; tax breaks; land purchases by the state)?
2. Does the effect of designating an area as an "area of
critical state concern" warrant a corresponding program
of compensating landowners for any (or a certain level
.Z' of) diminution of value to their land (short of an
outright purchase)? Can the specifics of such a program
be formulated and enacted?
3. What has been the local effect of designating the
Green Swamp and Florida Keys as areas of critical state
concern? What has been the regional and state effect
of such designations?
4. If either the Green Swamp or the Florida Keys are
retained as areas of critical state concern, should
the boundaries of such areas be likewise retained or
5. If either the Green Swamp or the Florida Keys are
retained as areas of critical state concern, should
the existing land development regulations adopted by
the Cabinet for the respective areas be kept or modified?
6. Depending on the decisions of the committee relative
to retaining the ACSC program, or redesignating the
Green Swamp or Florida Keys as critical areas, what
are the legislative options available? (For example:
Legislature does the designating; Cabinet designates
with ratification or denial by Legislature; Cabinet
designates through more specific standards enacted by
Legislature; repeal s. 380.05 and abolish the program.)
cc: Howard Walton
.. ""917"'yr'aunavJyadnuSrT17 38
Despite Confusion, Lots In Green Swamp Seoling Wed
Green Swamp property owners say confusion over tb(
legal status of their property has made their holdings hard tc
sell, but buyers from across the country and around the work
are snapping -p isolated, unimproved lots in the environmenA
tally sensitive area.
Florida-based land sale companies are doing a booming
business using direct mail selling techniques to peddle thou
sands of Green Swamp lots. Most of the lots are sold to buyer:
who've never seen the land by companies who stand to make
millions from their Green Swamp properties. '
Among the hundreds of parcels of Polk land sold every
week, often for hundreds of thousands and even millions ol
dollars, the Green Swamp sales appear meager. Most lots sold
there are an acre or less in size and sell for between $3,000 and
$7,00. But multiplying the sale price by the.number of loto
available reveals a staggering sum.
SA week's work of sales by Florida Leisure 'l.ne Inc., a
land sale firm based in Miami, are typical of Green Swam;
tran'ections. The week of Dec. 18 the finn recorded seven
siles averaging $S,0C0 each. Those lots were sold to buyers in
Calfornia, New York, Pennsylvania and other states. Another
was sold to a woman and her son who gave a Talwan address.
S IT. $42,000 in sales the firm recorded that week are fax
from lstsgering, but should It sell all 6,335 of the unlmproved
lots it owns there, total sales would top $42 million.
Buyers are not the only forelgners Involved lanGrees
SSwamp land sales. One firm operating here is controlled by
two Puerto Rican residents who continue to sell lots in the
Green Swamp alter IlUng for protection under federal bank-
Sruptcy laws to delay a $4 million foreclosure sult Illed against
property they owns near Lake Wales.
S Another group of four Puerto Ricans created a firm In
SNovember to buy a tract of Green Swamp property east of
SPolk City. Orlando Woods Estates Inc. paid $436,000 for more
Than 400 lots, according to documentary stamps attached to
the deed. OWE Inc.'s Miami attorney has failed to return calls *
regarding the sale.
Atgar Investment Inc., a Miami firm sepcializlng in sales
to foreigners, particularly German residents, continues to sell
Green Swamp lots despite state charges it violated Florida
Sland-sale laws In peddling its Polk properties. Atgar owns 4,000 .
Green Swamp lots. If all those lots were sold at current prices,
Atgar's total sales would easily top $16 million.
The Florida Division of Land Sales does not know the total
value of Green Swamp land already sold, or the total value of
the remaining lots. But the division says it is eyeing Green
Swamp sales for possible violations.