Title: Issue of Sovereignty May be Settled by Lawsuit
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00002231/00001
 Material Information
Title: Issue of Sovereignty May be Settled by Lawsuit
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Okeechobee News
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Issue of Sovereignty May be Settled by Lawsuit, October 20 ,1992
General Note: Box 10, Folder 10 ( SF Water Resources Historical Collection - 1988 ), Item 12
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00002231
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, Tuesday, October 20, 1992

Issue of sovereignty may be settled

by lawsuit

The issue of sovereignty will not be
settled until there is litigation. That is
the belief of a large number of people in
Florida. There is a difference of opinion
on what comprises
sovereign lands even
among the state agen-
cies. Who
Even within the
Florida Department of Flo
Natural Resources,
there does not seem to
be agreement. For
example, when Todd
Vandenberg of the
Tampa field office of
DNR was interviewed
by telephone on Oct.
13, he said that the
warranty deeds and
titles which many the severe
landowners have are
not valid.
"The deed has to be By Twila
from the Board of
Trustees of the Inter-
nal Improvement Fund and it has to say
so at the top of the deed, or the land is
state-owned." He was referring to many
titles of people who have lived for many
years along the Kissimmee River Valley
or who have had title to lands in the
Upper Chain of Lakes, such as J.W.
Lunsford at the Oasis Marina. who has
owned his land and paid taxes for 28
years in Polk County.

During the court case between the
DNR and the Bronson Ranch, the agen-
cy claimed that their title is invalid
because the Board of Trustees had no
right to sell the land.
There is the issue
of what exactly consti-
owns tutes the "ordinary
high water mark."
ida? Should it be based on
its locations in 1845,
when. Florida was
Seventh admitted to the
In a s es Union, or should it be
based on some other
on the yardstick.
history Again, there seems
of Flod to be no consensus on
the issue.
lands and Leland Dyals, an
gnty issue Okeechobee surveyor
who worked for the
state during the years
Valentine the Kissimmee River
was being channel-
ized, said that he feels
the state agencies are wrong when they
try to use elevations to determine the
ordinary high water mark. He claims
the OHWL on a river should be deter-
mined where the water remains long
enough to change the characteristics of
the land.
At the Oasis Marina, located on State
Road 60 at the Kissimmee River bridge,
the DNR has told Mr. Lunsford that the







line is at 52.5 feet.
On Lake Hatchineha. the state agen-
cies have told Jim Maddox, whose prop-
erty is located at a 54.11-foot elevation,
that he is located on sovereign
submerged lands.
Through the years in the Bronson
Ranch case, the mark has been defined
at being at 54.1 feet on Lake Kissimmee
and on another occasion at 53.1 feet
There are some who feel that if the
elevation is used to denote the ordinary
high water line, that the 1845 mark is
something less than 50 feet.
In the court case, which was
decided in Okeechobee County in
1987 for the Latt Maxcy Corp., the
meander line based on the 1859 Sur-
vey Map was used to determine the
ordinary high water line. The DNR
never appealed the ruling of Judge
William L. Hendry in that case. So,
the argument might be made that the
state accepted the meander line of
the 1859 Government Survey as the
benchmark for determining the ordi-
nary high water line.
Does the state have a right to
claim swamp and overflowed lands,
or just the lands beneath flowing
In some cases in the Kissimmee
River Valley, some state agencies are
claiming sovereign lands are from
tree line to tree line, often a distance
of a mile or more.

The South Florida Water Manage-
ment District and the Florida Depart-
ment of Environmental Regulation are
currently referring to these lands in
which "the state might have a claim" as
policy lands. Those they are trying to
acquire have been purchased at full
value, but the DER recently audited the
district and criticized them for this prac-
tice. DER claims they should be dis-
counted, by as much as 30 percent.
Some of the homeowners in Okee-
chobee and Highlands counties who are
on such questionable lands have
received letters from the district in
which they state the property owner
might only receive eight cents on the
dollar for the "policy lands." These let-
ters were written over a year ago, and
allegedly, that issue has since been
ROAR (Realists Opposing the Alleged
Restoration) recently suggested during one
of their meetings, that a class action law-
suit might be the next step that the belea-
guered landowners on the Kissimmee River
and in the Upper Chain of Lakes might
want to take to resolve the issue.
With the authorization by Congress
of the Kissimmee River Restoration Plan
earlier this month, there is no doubt the
efforts by the district to acquire the
remaining land it needs for the project
will be increased, and a courtroom con-
frontation seems imminent before the
issue is resolved.

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