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State of Florida May Change Submerged Land Lease Rules and Costs

Government Law & Consulting   |   Environmental Regulation & Litigation   |   May 7, 2018
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The Florida Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust (BOT) has publicly noticed a rulemaking workshop to discuss proposed revisions to the administrative rules governing sovereign submerged land leases. The workshop will be available by telephone or webinar on May 23, in the afternoon.

The Carlton Fields Government Law and Consulting Practice Group routinely handles submerged land lease issues for clients and is analyzing the impact of these proposed changes on our clients’ operations. 

In advance of the workshop, the BOT released redline copies of the current rules that show the proposed revisions to Florida Administrative Code Chapters 18-20 and 18-21. These proposed revisions greatly adjust the cost calculations for submerged land leases, streamline the current rules, revise BOT delegation authority, revise marina approval standards for Monroe County, and create criteria for open-air dining establishments.

The most significant revisions concern the fees and costs associated with submerged land leases themselves. The base calculation for lease fees will now include not only the income derived from renting wet boat slips, but also "gross receipts from any and all transactions occurring over or involving the use of submerged land." Proposed Revised Rule 18-21.011, F.A.C.

Under the proposed rule, lease fees will also be more easily calculated because they will be directly tied to the revised base fee calculation. For example, lease fees will no longer be negotiated for restaurants and other non-water dependent uses that require a submerged land lease, but will instead be a flat rate that is 10 times the base lease fee. Furthermore, special event lease fees will be the base-fee prorated for the duration of the event. Easement fees will likewise be tied to the base fee calculation, and are removed altogether for treasure salvage and cultural resource recovery easements.

In addition to the proposed changes to fee calculations, other proposed changes are:

  • an allowance for open-air dining over submerged lands, subject to a submerged land lease and compliance with newly proposed criteria;
  • the removal of language concerning a moratorium in Monroe County for multi-slip docking facilities;
  • the removal of required lease provisions for water quality standards and testing for new or expanded docking facilities for 10 or more boats in Monroe County;
  • an allowance for harvesting pre-cut submerged timber (deadhead logging) by easement;
  • a 10-year initial lease term for private residential docks;
  • an expansion of items that may be approved by DEP and the water management districts instead of the BOT, including increases in the size and scale of docking facilities that can be approved by DEP and the water management districts.

Please reach out to any member of the Carlton Fields Government Law and Consulting Practice Group with your questions and comments about these proposed changes. 


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