Court Says Okaloosa Can Keep Courthouse Property

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- An appellate court says Okaloosa County has not abandoned its courthouse annex property in Shalimar by building a replacement in nearby Fort Walton Beach.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal on Tuesday rejected arguments the land should revert to successors of a bank and business that donated it in 1973.

The decision affirmed a trial court ruling that the county can keep the land if it maintains at least a minimal judicial presence.

County officials plan to renovate the building for other governmental uses but sought the opinion because they were unsure if they had to include court facilities.

Now-U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, who drafted the deed for the donors, testified there was no intent to dictate how big the judicial presence had to be.

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