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Sarasota Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 8 years ago

Palmer Ranch settles impact-fee suit

by: Robin Roy City Editor

County commissioners have approved a settlement that ends Palmer Ranch Holdings’ lawsuit on school impact fees.

The school district will pay it $372,304, which amounts to half of the impact fees collected in Palmer Ranch.

Palmer Ranch Holdings, which is owned by Hugh Culverhouse Jr., donated 20 acres to the Sarasota County School Board in 1984 to build an elementary school in Palmer Ranch. According to the lawsuit, the agreement that accompanied that donation absolved Palmer Ranch from paying any additional impact fees.

After the school board determined it wasn’t going to use that property, it entered into another agreement, which deeded the 20-acre parcel back to Palmer Ranch Holdings in exchange for a different 70-acre parcel for a new school building.

Culverhouse said that by deeding the 70-acre parcel, Palmer Ranch had satisfied the county’s requirements, as well as the requirements of the school board.

But in April 2004, county commissioners passed an ordinance, which implemented a school impact fee on all new residential development in the county — including Palmer Ranch.

Palmer Ranch Holdings claimed that more than 1,300 single-family homes and condos were built since the ordinance was approved. Single-family homes were charged $2,032. Multi-family units were charged $474.

The settlement agreement puts an end to five years of litigation.

Because the school district does not plan to build a school on the 70-acre site either, the agreement contains an additional provision that gives Culverhouse the right to buy the property for $1.7 million, which is the appraised value minus the $372,304.

“Do I want $372,000 in cash or pay $1.7 million and get that property?” Culverhouse asked. “We’ll go through the property and inspect it.”

Culverhouse has until March 31 to make his decision.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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