Okee-Tantie plan needs state approval

OKEECHOBEE — At the request of County Commissioner Terry Burroughs, county administrator Robbie Chartier gave an update on Okee-Tantie at the Thursday, June 23 county commission meeting.

Commissioner Burroughs said there are a lot of rumors and misinformation circulating in the community about the Guy Harvey project.

Mrs. Chartier explained that Elite Resorts and Guy Harvey Outpost have changed their proposal for the project. Initially they proposed a longterm lease, and planned to rent the RV spaces to visitors. At the last county meeting, Guy Harvey representatives explained that after doing more research into the expense that the renovations will require, including replacing the utility lines, they determined that in order to secure the necessary funding, they need to purchase the campground portion of the property so that they can sell RV lots there.

They proposed to lease the area with the boat docks, marina and the building that is now Lightsey’s Restaurant, as well as a section that will be designated for airboats. The leased property will still be owned by the county. Guy Harvey Outpost and Elite Resorts want to purchase the campground area from the county.

Mrs. Chartier said this change in the proposal requires the county obtain permission from the state, since the state still has an interest in the property.

The county will probably have to pay the State of Florida for the state’s interest in the land in order to have the clear title to sell it.

The county will also have to put out a Request for Proposals (RFQ) on the property and allow all interested parties to bid.

She said in order to make request before the Florida Cabinet, they need an appraisal of the property that is approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

“Those appraisals have been ordered and will be ready in July,” she explained.

“We anticipate our meeting with the Cabinet no later than Aug. 30,” she said.

“They would tell us what they want for the property,” Mrs. Chartier continued.

“That action would then come back to this board.”

She said the county already owns the property but the state will want payment to clear the reservations, assuming the board wants to purchase those reservations.

After that is accomplished, the property would be free and clear with the exception of the flowage easement which will be retained by South Florida Water Management District.

“At that point, we  would go to RFP to sell whatever parts of the property you want to sell, and specify the type of developer,” she said.

The bid would be for the highest and best use of the property, not just the highest price, Mrs. Chartier said.

“There can be stipulations in terms of protecting the county’s interest in the property,” she added.

Okee-Tantie

Okee-Tantie; new plan where the county only retains ownership of the gray areas.

The RFPs would come back to the board. If the county does not like the RFPs, the commissioners can reject them, she said.

The Lightsey’s Restaurant lease on the county-owned building at Okee-Tantie will expire June 30. Mrs. Chartier said it is her understanding that Lightsey’s will open their new location on Parrott Avenue sometime in August.

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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