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As we suspected, the announcement by the Babcock family that it had pulled out of negotiations with the state did not mean that the deal to preserve Babcock Ranch was dead.
The family is talking again with Lee and Charlotte county officials, trying to set up a "friendly" condemnation that would help it avoid a huge tax bill if it sells the property. The 90,000-acre ranch is spread across the eastern sectors of the two counties.
A troubling development has arisen in the new negotiations, however: The asking price has taken an unexpected and unexplained $30 million jump.
Two appraisals put the ranch's value between $450 million and $460 million. …