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Old 04-10-2016, 10:47 PM
18 posts, read 23,094 times
Reputation: 22


Curious how others would handle this situation. We financed 9 acres 7 years ago (with a local bank) to build a home on. At that time it was not "wetlands" according to the county's GIS map. We spoke to someone at the county office and asked if we would be able to build on the property and were told YES. Now all of a sudden (7 years later) we noticed that is classified as "wetlands" according to the County GIS map. We spoke to the county recently and they are now telling us it is all wetlands and we can not build on it unless we pay to have studies (to determine if it is wetlands) and then we would have to pay mitigation, etc. IF there is even a possibility it can be built on. So, we are obviously in a lose-lose situation. We have a mortgage on the property. I am seriously thinking of not paying on it anymore and letting it foreclose. This seems to be the only alternative as we do not want to be stuck paying property taxes for the rest of our lives for property we may not be able to build on or ever sell. Why would anyone want to buy "wetlands"???? The county is saying it IS absolutely without a doubt wetlands so why should we pay more money to just find out it is wetlands and we can't do anything with it or that we would have to spend a lot more money (per the county employee it could be many more thousands of dollars) to be able to do something with it. Taking a loss and letting the property go and letting the county deal with it and then finding someone else to pay the taxes seems like the best bet for us. Why should WE keep losing money?? We feel we have been bulldozed by the Federal and the Local Government. The Feds have their wetland boundary and the county has an extra wetland boundary that extends 50' out from the Fed's boundary. I am wondering if this is some scam to land grab without actually paying for the land and also having the benefit of tax revenue from land. Also, this property backs up to State owned land. Also, this property is NOT on the coast. We have never had a foreclosure and have excellent credit but I am so beyond frustrated because I feel we are powerless and are being taken for complete suckers. We are older and have a home plus another vacant property in another area of Florida that we are going to sell ASAP before it suddenly becomes wetlands. I can guarantee we will NEVER buy vacant land again after this experience.
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Old 04-11-2016, 01:00 AM
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Are you referring to wetlands or flood plain?

When we got letters saying we were in a flood plain, we and a few neighbors got together and hired a surveyor who would do several properties at a lower cost per property. He found we were not in a flood plaint as we all had thought. We also learned that there was actually a flyover that just said any properties around the blue spots...send them letters saying they are in the flood plain.

Long process but for a relatively low cost the maps were changed.

That said, it is possible for property over time to be qualified as wetlands or flood plain...erosion, lack of attention paid to water weeds and silt buildup, etc.
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Old 04-11-2016, 01:25 AM
Location: Tennessee at last!
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See if you can donate it to some place like the Nature Conservancy with them paying for the remaining money owed on your deed and you taking a tax deduction for the part you paid. Non-profit organizations that want to preserve land for habitat of species might look at your land favorably, especially since it backs up to state land.

Losses are never good, but a tax deductible donation is better than a foreclosure.
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Old 04-11-2016, 04:05 AM
6,401 posts, read 7,605,908 times
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I work primarily with vacant land so I deal with a lot of wetland issues. It is unlikely that your land "suddenly" became wetlands. Most likely, it had wetland characteristics when you bought it, but you didn't pay for a wetland delineation to determine whether wetlands were present. A GIS map is not a reliable indicator of whether the property consists of wetlands.

You could pay for such a wetland delineation now, but if the County folks are pretty certain about its status, you could be throwing good money after bad. I'm not sure how much you still owe on the property--or what the property would be worth as wetlands--but you should see if the state would have an interest in buying it, since it backs to state land. Otherwise, you could see if a non-profit charitable conservation organization would accept title to it. The appraised value of any donation would be tax deductible.

You can find a list of local land conservancies at Land Trust Alliance | Together, conserving the places you love . (Go to the lower right corner of their home page to "Find a Land Trust".) There may also be a local Audubon Society which would be interested in protecting the property. Nine acres is a relatively small parcel, but it's possible that some group would accept title.
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Old 04-11-2016, 10:02 AM
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Thank you for your responses.

Cully, it is "wetlands" and not in a flood zone at all. Funny thing is (really not funny at all) that it is in Flood Zone X (outside of the 500 year Floodplain; minimal flood risk and flood insurance would not be required to build a home).

Lae60 and JackMichigan, I have actually checked into the Conservation route. We would have loved for the property to be preserved like it is because it is full of wildlife (black bear, fox, deer, etc). They do not want to pay any money for it as they only accept donations. Thank you for the information though JackMichigan as I will check into it to see if we missed contacting any. We have been contacted several times by one particular Conservation group that does "Conservation Easements" only but we are not interested because we would have to retain ownership of the property and that is still basically a donation on our part. We have also contacted the State on several occasions thinking they would be interested because it does back up to the State Forest AND is in the Florida Wildlife Corridor, AND is located where the Florida Trail can be accessed directly from the property but they said they were not interested and that the state had NO MONEY to buy land for conservation. We actually purchased the land for a very low price and don't owe much at all on it. It is not an issue of affordability. It is wanting to get rid of it so we don't have to be stuck paying taxes on it for the rest of our lives. We researched the property before we purchased it as far as checking with the county to make sure there were no flood or wetland issues but no, we did not have a wetland delineation completed at that time. I have spoken to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and The Army Corps. of Engineers and they said that the wetland map was recently updated (during Obama's Administration) to include millions of acres that were not previously wetlands.
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Old 04-11-2016, 10:05 AM
18 posts, read 23,094 times
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Over 45 million acres of the U.S. have NEW wetlands data posted on the Wetlands Mapper. These updates include portions of the lower 48 states as well as Alaska and Hawaii. Link to the updates Wetlands Map. In case anyone else wants to check it out.

National Wetlands Inventory Home Page
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Old 04-11-2016, 10:21 AM
6,401 posts, read 7,605,908 times
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One other option might be to check into whether a developer could utilize the site as wetland mitigation for a small development. "Preservation mitigation" might allow a developer to purchase the land from you in return for satisfying a wetland permit requirement. The developer might be able to then donate the land to the state. You might also look into making a donation to the state as well.

Contact your local Army Corps of Engineers office to see if they know of any developers who might be looking to satisfy mitigation requirements. It may be a long shot, but I've dealt with a few "preservation mitigations" where developers have purchased wetlands and then donated them to a conservation organization.
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Old 04-11-2016, 10:32 AM
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Thank you jackmichigan. That thought had crossed my mind but I wan't sure how/where to start.
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Old 04-11-2016, 10:43 AM
4,519 posts, read 8,156,518 times
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Typically you pay for a wetland delineation for the site in which you want to build the home. Not the entire property.

I was in a similar situation where I had to pay a surveyor ($1000) for a elevation certificate to prove my property was not in danger of flooding and requiring flood insurance.

If you let it go to foreclosure, someone may pick this property up for a steal, and develop it because they completed the steps necessary to build, and you didn't bother.
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Old 04-11-2016, 10:51 AM
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If you let it foreclose then you will have issues buying another property or building a home and being able to get a mortgage. I would find another home and then let it go into foreclosure.
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