Archive of Prominent Section 106 Cases:
Florida: Construction of the Rowland Estates Subdivision (Okeechobee)
Agency: Corps of Engineers
Criteria for Council Involvement:
- This undertaking will adversely affect the Okeechobee Battlefield, a National Historic Landmark (Criterion 1).
- The Miccosukee and Seminole Tribes have raised concerns regarding impacts to this property of religious and cultural significance to the tribes; it may contain Indian burials (Criterion 4).
In July 1999, the Council notified the Secretary of the Army that the Council would continue to participate under its new regulations in consultation on the proposed Corps of Engineers (Corps) permit for the Rowland Estates residential subdivision. Because of the adverse effect of the project to the Okeechobee Battlefield National Historic Landmark (NHL), the permit applicant now proposes to donate a 2.3-acre parcel of the most historically sensitive land for a battlefield park. However, the Miccosukee Tribe already has deemed that plan “unacceptable” and expressed opposition to the development.
In addition to its letter to the Secretary of the Army, the Council has reiterated its previous concerns to the Corps’ Jacksonville District and requested information to assist in assessing the adequacy of the proposed land donation. The Council also advised the Corps to work with the Florida State Historic Preservation Office to plan to involve the public in Section 106 review for the proposed permit.
The Corps is reviewing an application for a Section 404 permit for the construction of a lakefront residential subdivision known as Rowland Estates. The proposed subdivision is within the boundaries of the Okeechobee Battlefield NHL, located just east of Okeechobee. The project area, which will include 300 residential lots, covers approximately 146 acres.
The battlefield was designated an NHL as the site of the most important battle of the Second Seminole War and for its association with General, later President, Zachary Taylor. At this battle, General Taylor won a decisive victory over the largest concentration of Seminole and Miccosukee warriors assembled during the war. The 640-acre battlefield is privately owned; no part has been set aside for preservation.
The Council was first notified of this project in 1994, and by 1997, the Corps had formally determined that the project would adversely affect the battlefield. The agency initiated consultation with the Council, which expressed several concerns with the proposed project. First, the site is of importance to both the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes as a property of traditional religious and cultural significance. Both tribes consider the area sacred, and there is the strong probability of buried human remains on the battlefield. (In addition to Section 106, a State burial law addressing disturbance of unmarked graves is also applicable.)
The Council also noted that the proposed residential development could result in the de-designation of this nationally significant historic property as an NHL. The most probable area where the battle was fought lies within or near the southeast corner of the project site. The threat posed to the site’s integrity led the National Park Service to list the property as a Priority 1 Endangered Landmark from 1995-1997.
In 1998, Corps review of the project was placed on hold pending further project planning by the applicant. Early this year, the Corps renewed review of the project and consultation under Section 106.
The proposed development within the boundaries of an NHL has several policy implications. First, the project underscores the need for the integration of historic preservation considerations at the local planning level, since the NHL is privately owned. Second, the importance of this site to both the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes as a traditional cultural property and sacred site must be addressed in consultation. Finally, the residential subdivision as proposed may result in the de-designation of this nationally significant historic property.
Staff contact: Tom McCulloch
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