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Property ownership on Santa Rosa Island

SANTA ROSA ISLAND   --  A bill introduced in the House by Congressman Jeff Miller could change the rules of property ownership on Santa Rosa Island.  Rules that have been in place for 66 years.

The federal government gave Santa Rosa Island to Escambia County in 1947.
That included all of Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach.
In 1956, Escambia County leased Navarre Beach to Santa Rosa County.
But the deed said Escambia County could *Never sell or convey the land to anyone else.
That's why homeowners on the beaches could not own the land their homes were on.

They paid lease fees instead of property taxes.
But in recent years, both counties started collecting property taxes on the "property improvements" on beach land,  taxing the houses, not the actual property.
And the lawsuits began.
Miller's bill would outright give four miles of Navarre Beach to Santa Rosa County.

It would also give all leaseholders the land their homes sit on.
Lease fees would end, and homeowners would only pay a property tax.
Miller's office says his bill was carefully crafted to ensure public access to the beaches and to protect and conserve undeveloped areas as well.
It has a long way to go.
The Full House and Senate must approve it  and eventually the president.
It could take years.