(1) The owner or owners in fee of any land subject to a conservation easement as described in s. 704.06; land qualified as environmentally endangered pursuant to paragraph (6)(i) and so designated by formal resolution of the governing board of the municipality or county within which such land is located; land designated as conservation land in a comprehensive plan adopted by the appropriate municipal or county governing body; or any land which is utilized for outdoor recreational or park purposes may, by appropriate instrument, for a term of not less than 10 years: (a) Convey the development right of such land to the governing board of any public agency in this state within which the land is located, or to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, or to a charitable corporation or trust as described in s. 704.06(3); or (b) Covenant with the governing board of any public agency in this state within which the land is located, or with the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, or with a charitable corporation or trust as described in s. 704.06(3), that such land be subject to one or more of the conservation restrictions provided in s. 704.06(1) or not be used by the owner for any purpose other than outdoor recreational or park purposes. If land is covenanted and used for an outdoor recreational purpose, the normal use and maintenance of the land for that purpose, consistent with the covenant, shall not be restricted. (2) The governing board of any public agency in this state, or the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, or a charitable corporation or trust as described in s. 704.06(3), is authorized and empowered in its discretion to accept any and all instruments conveying the development right of any such land or establishing a covenant pursuant to subsection (1), and if accepted by the board or charitable corporation or trust, the instrument shall be promptly filed with the appropriate officer for recording in the same manner as any other instrument affecting the title to real property. (3) When, pursuant to subsections (1) and (2), the development right in real property has been conveyed to the governing board of any public agency of this state, to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, or to a charitable corporation or trust as described in s. 704.06(2), or a covenant has been executed and accepted by the board or charitable corporation or trust, the lands which are the subject of such conveyance or covenant shall be thereafter assessed as provided herein:
(a) If the covenant or conveyance extends for a period of not less than 10 years from January 1 in the year such assessment is made, the property appraiser, in valuing such land for tax purposes, shall consider no factors other than those relative to its value for the present use, as restricted by any conveyance or covenant under this section.
(b) If the covenant or conveyance extends for a period less than 10 years, the land shall be assessed under the provisions of s. 193.011, recognizing the nature and length thereof of any restriction placed on the use of the land under the provisions of subsection (1). (4) After making a conveyance of the development right or executing a covenant pursuant to this section, or conveying a conservation easement pursuant to this section and s. 704.06, the owner of the land shall not use the land in any manner not consistent with the development right voluntarily conveyed, or with the restrictions voluntarily imposed, or with the terms of the conservation easement or shall not change the use of the land from outdoor recreational or park purposes during the term of such conveyance or covenant without first obtaining a written instrument from the board or charitable corporation or trust, which instrument reconveys all or part of the development right to the owner or releases the owner from the terms of the covenant and which instrument must be promptly recorded in the same manner as any other instrument affecting the title to real property. Upon obtaining approval for reconveyance or release, the reconveyance or release shall be made to the owner upon payment of the deferred tax liability. Any payment of the deferred tax liability shall be payable to the county tax collector within 90 days of the date of approval by the board or charitable corporation or trust of the reconveyance or release. The collector shall distribute the payment to each governmental unit in the proportion that its millage bears to the total millage levied on the parcel for the years in which such conveyance or covenant was in effect. (5) The governing board of any public agency or the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund or a charitable corporation or trust which holds title to a development right pursuant to this section may not convey that development right to anyone other than the governing board of another public agency or a charitable corporation or trust, as described in s. 704.06(3), or the record owner of the fee interest in the land to which the development right attaches. The conveyance from the governing board of a public agency or the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund to the owner of the fee shall be made only after a determination by the board that such conveyance would not adversely affect the interest of the public. Section 125.35 does not apply to such sales, but any public agency accepting any instrument conveying a development right pursuant to this section shall forthwith adopt appropriate regulations and procedures governing the disposition of same. These regulations and procedures must provide in part that the board may not convey a development right to the owner of the fee without first holding a public hearing and unless notice of the proposed conveyance and the time and place at which the public hearing is to be held is published once a week for at least 2 weeks in some newspaper of general circulation in the county involved prior to the hearing. (6) The following terms whenever used as referred to in this section have the following meanings unless a different meaning is clearly indicated by the context:
(a) “Board” is the governing board of any city, county, or other public agency of the state or the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund.
(b) “Conservation restriction” means a limitation on a right to the use of land for purposes of conserving or preserving land or water areas predominantly in their natural, scenic, open, agricultural, or wooded condition. The limitation on rights to the use of land may involve or pertain to any of the activities enumerated in s. 704.06(1). (c) “Conservation easement” means that property right described in s. 704.06.
(d) “Covenant” is a covenant running with the land.
(e) “Deferred tax liability” means an amount equal to the difference between the total amount of taxes that would have been due in March in each of the previous years in which the conveyance or covenant was in effect if the property had been assessed under the provisions of s. 193.011 and the total amount of taxes actually paid in those years when the property was assessed under the provisions of this section, plus interest on that difference computed as provided in s. 212.12(3).
(f) “Development right” is the right of the owner of the fee interest in the land to change the use of the land.
(g) “Outdoor recreational or park purposes” includes, but is not necessarily limited to, boating, golfing, camping, swimming, horseback riding, and archaeological, scenic, or scientific sites and applies only to land which is open to the general public.
(h) “Present use” is the manner in which the land is utilized on January 1 of the year in which the assessment is made.
(i) “Qualified as environmentally endangered” means land that has unique ecological characteristics, rare or limited combinations of geological formations, or features of a rare or limited nature constituting habitat suitable for fish, plants, or wildlife, and which, if subject to a development moratorium or one or more conservation easements or development restrictions appropriate to retaining such land or water areas predominantly in their natural state, would be consistent with the conservation, recreation and open space, and, if applicable, coastal protection elements of the comprehensive plan adopted by formal action of the local governing body pursuant to s. 163.3161, the Community Planning Act; or surface waters and wetlands, as determined by the methodology ratified in s. 373.4211. (7)(a) The property appraiser shall report to the department showing the just value and the classified use value of property that is subject to a conservation easement under s. 704.06, property assessed as environmentally endangered land pursuant to this section, and property assessed as outdoor recreational or park land.
(b) The tax collector shall annually report to the department the amount of deferred tax liability collected pursuant to this section.
(8) A person or organization that, on January 1, has the legal title to land that is entitled by law to assessment under this section shall, on or before March 1 of each year, file an application for assessment under this section with the county property appraiser. The application must identify the property for which assessment under this section is claimed. The initial application for assessment for any property must include a copy of the instrument by which the development right is conveyed or which establishes a covenant that establishes the conservation purposes for which the land is used. The Department of Revenue shall prescribe the forms upon which the application is made. The failure to file an application on or before March 1 of any year constitutes a waiver of assessment under this section for that year. However, an applicant who is qualified to receive an assessment under this section but fails to file an application by March 1 may file an application for the assessment and may file, pursuant to s. 194.011(3), a petition with the value adjustment board requesting that the assessment be granted. The petition must be filed at any time during the taxable year on or before the 25th day following the mailing of the notice by the property appraiser pursuant to s. 194.011(1). Notwithstanding s. 194.013, the applicant must pay a nonrefundable fee of $15 upon filing the petition. Upon reviewing the petition, if the person is qualified to receive the assessment and demonstrates particular extenuating circumstances judged by the property appraiser or the value adjustment board to warrant granting the assessment, the property appraiser or the value adjustment board may grant the assessment. The owner of land that was assessed under this section 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 assessment of property within the county. Such waiver may be revoked by a majority vote of the governing body of the county.
(9) A person or entity that owns land assessed pursuant to this section must notify the property appraiser promptly if the land becomes ineligible for assessment under this section. If any property owner fails to notify the property appraiser and the property appraiser determines that for any year within the preceding 10 years the land was not eligible for assessment under this section, the owner of the land is subject to taxes avoided as a result of such failure plus 15 percent interest per annum and a penalty of 50 percent of the taxes avoided. The property appraiser making such determination shall record in the public records of the county a notice of tax lien against any property owned by that person or entity in the county, and such property must be identified in the notice of tax lien. The property is subject to a lien in the amount of the unpaid taxes and penalties. The lien when filed shall attach to any property identified in the notice of tax lien which is owned by the person or entity and which was improperly assessed. If such person or entity no longer owns property in that county but owns property in some other county or counties of this state, the property appraiser shall record a notice of tax lien in such other county or counties, identifying the property owned by such person or entity.