(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 193.461, the property appraiser shall annually classify for assessment purposes all lands within a county choosing to have a high-water recharge protection tax assessment program as either agricultural, nonagricultural, or high-water recharge. The classification applies only to taxes levied by the counties and municipalities adopting an ordinance under subsection (5). (2) Any landowner whose land is within a county that has a high-water recharge protection tax assessment program and whose land is denied high-water recharge classification by the property appraiser may appeal to the value adjustment board. The property appraiser shall notify the landowner in writing of the denial of high-water recharge classification on or before July 1 of the year for which the application was filed. The notification must advise the landowner of a right to appeal to the value adjustment board and of the filing deadline. The property appraiser shall have available at her or his office a list by ownership of all applications received showing the acreage, the full valuation under s. 193.011, the valuation of the land under the provisions of this section, and whether or not the classification requested was granted.
(3)(a) Lands may not be classified as high-water recharge lands unless a return is filed on or before March 1 of each year. The property appraiser, before so classifying the lands, may require the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s representative to furnish the property appraiser such information as may reasonably be required to establish that the lands were actually used for a bona fide high-water recharge purpose. Failure to make timely application by March 1 constitutes a waiver for 1 year of the privilege granted for high-water recharge assessment. The owner of land that was classified high-water recharge in the previous year and whose ownership or use has not changed may reapply on a short form as provided by the department. A county may, at the request of the property appraiser and by a majority vote of its governing body, waive the requirement that an annual application or statement be made for classification of property within the county after an initial application is made and the classification granted.
(b) Subject to the restrictions set out in this section, only lands that are used primarily for bona fide high-water recharge purposes may be classified as high-water recharge. The term “bona fide high-water recharge purposes” means good faith high-water recharge use of the land. In determining whether the use of the land for high-water recharge purposes is bona fide, the following factors apply:
1. The land use must have been continuous.
2. The land use must be vacant residential, vacant commercial, vacant industrial, vacant institutional, nonagricultural, or single-family residential. The maintenance of one single-family residential dwelling on part of the land does not in itself preclude a high-water recharge classification.
3. The land must be located within a prime groundwater recharge area or in an area considered by the appropriate water management district to supply significant groundwater recharge. Significant groundwater recharge shall be assessed by the appropriate water management district on the basis of hydrologic characteristics of the soils and underlying geologic formations.
4. The land must not be receiving any other special classification.
5. There must not be in the vicinity of the land any activity that has the potential to contaminate the ground water, including, but not limited to, the presence of:
a. Toxic or hazardous substances;
b. Free-flowing saline artesian wells;
c. Drainage wells;
d. Underground storage tanks; or
e. Any potential pollution source existing on a property that drains to the property seeking the high-water recharge classification.
6. The owner of the property has entered into a contract with the county as provided in subsection (5).
7. The parcel of land must be at least 10 acres.
Notwithstanding the provisions of this paragraph, the property appraiser shall use the best available information on the high-water recharge characteristics of lands when making a final determination to grant or deny an application for high-water recharge assessment for the lands.
(4) The provisions of this section do not constitute a basis for zoning restrictions.
(5)(a) In years in which proper application for high-water recharge assessment has been made and granted under this section, for purposes of taxes levied by the county, the assessment of the land must be based on the formula adopted by the county as provided in paragraph (b).
(b) Counties that choose to have a high-water recharge protection tax assessment program must adopt by ordinance a formula for determining the assessment of properties classified as high-water recharge property and a method of contracting with property owners who wish to be involved in the program.
(c) The contract must include a provision that the land assessed as high-water recharge land will be used primarily for bona fide high-water recharge purposes for a period of at least 5 years, as determined by the county, from January 1 of the year in which the assessment is made. Violation of the contract results in the property owner being subject to the payment of the difference between the total amount of taxes actually paid on the property and the amount of taxes which would have been paid in each previous year the contract was in effect if the high-water recharge assessment had not been used.
(d) A municipality located in any county that adopts an ordinance under paragraph (a) may adopt an ordinance providing for the assessment of land located in the incorporated areas in accordance with the county’s ordinance.
(e) Property owners whose land lies within an area determined to be a high-water recharge area must not be required to have their land assessed according to the high-water recharge classification.
(f) In years in which proper application for high-water recharge assessment has not been made, the land must be assessed under s. 193.011.