Owner agrees to sell vital land along manatee sanctuary

An aerial view of manatees gathered near the mouth of Three Sisters Springs.

The owner of 57 acres near the Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River tentatively has agreed to sell his land to the state for $10.5 million, a landowner representative said Thursday.

The Florida Communities Trust on June 24 agreed to pay $10.5 million for the land in a deal aimed at stopping a proposal to build 309 homes. Business leaders, tourism officials, local environmentalists and the Save the Manatee Club argued in support of the purchase on June 24 before the FCT board in Tallahassee.

The Legislature set aside $2 million towards an unnamed Citrus County conservation purchase tucked away deep inside the new state budget. But the FCT board, which oversees state grants for the purchase of local parks across the state, instead agreed to put $725,000 aside for Three Sisters Springs as some members argued that taking money from other worthy projects was unfair.

George Willson, representing the Conservation Fund that represents landowner managing partner Hal Flowers, said the deal depends on the Crystal River City Council approving a transfer of development rights for some of the homes so they can be built elsewhere in the city.

“Everybody is really, really happy,” Willson said.

For more on the story:
“Three Sisters Deal Shaping Up,” Citrus County Chronicle, July 7.

“State Board balks at budget provision approved by Legislature,” FloridaEnvironments.com, June 24.

Photos of Three Sisters Springs by Tracy Colson. To view more, go to https://www.savethemanatee.org/three_sisters/savethreesisters_photo.html

(Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting brucebritchie@gmail.com.)