The Florida Department of Environmental Protection this week made two offers to the Babcock family… for the 91,000-acre Babcock Ranch which straddles Lee and Charlotte Counties. The first option is to buy the land for $455 million. The second relies on a third party likely an investor/developer to buy the Babcock Corporation, then sell about 80,000 acres to the state. Under the second offer, the investor would keep 11 thousand acres.
That second offer concerns Lee County Commissioner Bob Janes. He co-chairs the Babcock Preservation Partnership—a coalition of citizens and environmental groups. Janes says given the relative secrecy of the negotiations, he hasn’t been able to learn the specifics of the third party scenario.
“Our Babcock group prefers the first option… which is total acquisition by the governor. We don’t have the facts to make any decision whatsoever to make a judgment on the second—in which the state suggests a third party. We don’t know anything about it. There’s many details that are missing.”
Both offers from the DEP use Florida Forever funds to pay for acquisition. The 10-year, state program makes money available to conserve sensitive land, restore waterways, and preserve cultural sites. The state has set a deadline of April 12th for the Babcock family to respond. The Ranch is home to a variety of endangered species… including the Florida Panther and black bear.
Friday, 08 April 2005 01:00