Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Company Claiming Rights to Homeowners' Land; Reinhold Required to Mail out Notices

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Company Claiming Rights to Homeowners' Land; Reinhold Required to Mail out Notices

Article excerpt

Byline: R. Michael Anderson, Clay County Line staff writer

When Wayne Lackey opened the envelope from the Clay County Clerk of Court's Office that arrived in his mail recently, three words in capital letters and boldface type jumped out at him: "Notice of Claim."

As he continued to read the document, he became increasingly puzzled and concerned to learn that a previous owner of his 10 acres, the Reinhold Corp., was claiming the right to extract oil, gas, minerals or other valuable resources that might be discovered on the property some day.

"You get nervous when you get something like that," said Lackey. "It's kind of scary. I've put 20 years of my life into this place. I have a home and a pond in the center of my property adjacent to Gold Head State Park."

Lackey wasn't alone. Reinhold had the clerk of court mail out about 1,200 claim notices to property owners in the southern part of the county near Keystone Heights, where the company owned about 120,000 acres more than a half-century ago.

Many years ago, when founder Paul Reinhold sold thousands of acres of the company's vast holdings between Middleburg and Keystone Heights, the company retained all commercial rights to extract valuable resources below the surface, said vice president Jim Kuhn.

Rumor has it that the founder had heard 50 or 60 years ago that "there might be oil under those hills," Kuhn said. Reinhold drilled a couple of exploratory wells that came up dry, but decided to keep an interest in the land he sold years later.

Now, to maintain its interest in the properties, the company is required by state law to mail out claim notices to every affected property owner once every three decades.

"Thirty years from now, we'll have to do it again," Kuhn said. "That was a mandate from the Florida Legislature in 1976, when we filed the first claims."

But the company has no plans to exercise the claim now or in the future, he said.

"It's not a foregone conclusion that it won't ever happen," Kuhn said. …

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