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St. Lucie County’

Battle of Beau Rivage nears the end

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 by John Kennedy

A waterfront enclave in St. Lucie County could be moved into neighboring Martin County under a measure approved 113-2 Wednesday by the House.

Just days after the Tallahassee-area commemorated the Battle of Natural Bridge, the Confederacy’s last major victory of the Civil War, the Florida Legislature appears poised to settle the battle of Beau Rivage, a 129-acre development where some residents want to secede from St. Lucie County and join Martin, with voter approval.

Beau Rivage is on the north fork of the St. Lucie River. Residents have a Stuart address and can access their home St. Lucie County only by driving through Martin County.

“They are technically in St. Lucie County,” Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, said of the 560 residents affected by the legislation (CS/SB 800). “But really, economically, physically and socially, they are in Martin County. It is true, St. Lucie County would prefer they not move…I understand that. They don’t want to lose their tax base.”

The measure is expected to be approved by the Senate before Friday’s scheduled adjournment.

Residents are divided about the proposal, which would require voter approval before the boundaries change. But others want the switch because St. Lucie County school officials have indicated they may back away from allowing the neighborhood children to attend school in Martin County.

The last time the legislature changed the county lines was in 2007 when part of southern Palm Beach County was annexed into Broward County.


Senate unanimously supports new county lines for St. Lucie, Martin

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 by Dara Kam

The Florida Senate gave a unanimous thumbs-up to a plan (SB 800) that would move a waterfront enclave now in St. Lucie County into Martin County.

The 129-acre parcel includes the Beau Rivage development, where homeowners have a “Stuart” address but live in another county. Residents are divided about the proposal, which would require voter approval before the boundaries would be changed.

Bill sponsor Joe Negron, R-Stuart, called the proposal (SB 800) “democracy in action” before the 38-0 vote with no discussion.

The community’s address and proximity to Martin County has created confusion even among police and elections officials, proponents of the new lines say, including Alan Marcus, who’s spearheaded the move and said “There’s nothing St. Lucie County about this area.”

Residents also want the switch because St. Lucie County, which opposes the switch, school officials have indicated they are backing away from an agreement allowing the neighborhood children to attend school in Martin County.

Critics of the plan acknowledge the school issue needs to be resolved but say that some homeowners want to increase their property values by switching to Martin County and that Martin officials haven’t given enough assurances about what will happen if the change occurs.

A House version of the proposal, sponsored by Stuart Republican Gayle Harrell, has two more committee stops before it gets to the floor for a full vote.

UPDATE: State owns $14 million building after all

Monday, December 7th, 2009 by Dara Kam

An error in St. Lucie County Property Appraiser Jeff Furst’s database caused confusion over whether the state ever took title to a $14 million building it owns in Ft. Pierce.

Furst told a Senate committee this morning that his records showed the state had never transferred the title from the City of Ft. Pierce, which gave the land to the state in 1988.

The state actually took ownership of the property in 1989, according to the Department of Management Services.

Senate budget chief ordered DMS officials in January to create a database of all state-owned properties – more than 17,000 buildings – so lawmakers could consolidate workers and possibly save money on expensive leases.

DMS has not been able to do that yet and wants to hire a private vendor to help create the database.

Furst told Alexander’s Ways and Means Committee that the task should be simple: all of the state’s 67 property appraisers submit a list of all the properties – including those owned by the state – and their values to the Department of Revenue each year.

Furst’s records should be updated tonight to show that the state has taken ownership of the building, DMS spokeswoman Linda McDonald said.

“This is a good example of why this is a big important job because different databases need to be kept up to date,” she said. “We want you and your readers to understand that we have always known where of our buildings are. That’s never been the issue. The issue has been getting this complete data set that provides valuation for those properties.”

St. Lucie property appraiser finds $14 million property state owns…sort of

Monday, December 7th, 2009 by Dara Kam

St. Lucie County Property Appraiser Jeff Furst wants to help out frustrated Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander who’s been trying to get a handle on how many buildings the state owns and where they are.

Furst told Alexander’s Ways and Means Committee this morning that he and each of the state’s 67 property appraisers already have a list of state-owned properties that they submit to the state Department of Revenue every year.

There are more than 800 state-owned properties worth at least $400 million in St. Lucie County, Furst told the committee. And that doesn’t include a parcel worth $14 million the state has owned for more than 20 years but never bothered to take title of.
The city of Ft. Pierce donated the land for the building to the state, Furst said. He was surprised to learn that it wasn’t included on the list of state-owned properties and discovered that state officials never took ownership of the property although the warranty deed and other documents were sent to them in 1988.

Alexander, a Lake Wales Republican whose district includes part of St. Lucie County, ordered Department of Management Services Secretary Linda South in January to come up with an inventory of the state’s real property. She hasn’t been able to do that yet. Instead, she wants to hire a private company to help find the missing buildings and create a database of them.

Property appraisers could create the database within 90 days, Furst said.

“Nobody will need anything other than some good cooperation and a state plan,” Furst said.

Management Services officials grabbed Furst after he testified and immediately set up a meeting with him to see what he could do to help them with their task, which Alexander put into state law.

The state is fully aware that it “owns” the building, which still shows up on the tax rolls as belonging to the city of Ft. Pierce. The building is fully occupied by state workers, DMS Chief of Staff Ken Granger said, and the state officials know they “own” it.

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