All LGI docks attached to the bay shore of LGI are located on submerged bay-bottom land owned by the state of Florida. These submerged state lands are regulated and administered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”). Beginning in 2009, the DEP determined that most of the private docks attached to bay front lots on LGI and almost all of the community or neighborhood docks attached to the bay ends of LGI’s east-west “streets” did not have the required DEP permit and did not conform to many of the DEP regulations (and thus could not obtain a permit). As a result, all of these unpermitted and nonconforming docks were subject to removal by the DEP.
In order to preserve LGI’s existing docks, an ad hoc “Dock Committee” was formed on LGI and began negotiations with DEP to design a mechanism that LGI dock users could utilize to “grandfather,” and thus “legalize,” their existing unpermitted and nonconforming docks. After three and one-half years of negotiations to obtain DEP’s support, the Dock Committee drafted and persuaded the Florida Legislature to pass the LGI “Dock Bill” which provides the necessary grandfathering mechanisms. The Dock Bill was signed into law on June 13, 2014.
Under the express terms of the Dock Bill, the owners or users of all unpermitted and nonconforming LGI bay docks have until June 13, 2016 to complete the grandfathering process for their docks. If they do not complete the grandfathering process for their dock by that deadline, the dock will again become subject to removal by the DEP. In many cases, it will not be possible to replace the dock after removal because many of the current dock locations do not conform to current DEP regulations. Thus, it is absolutely essential that all private dock owners and community dock users, whose docks currently are unpermitted and nonconforming, complete the grandfathering procedures provided in the Dock Bill before the June 13, 2016 deadline.
For owners of private docks attached to bay front lots:
Pursuant to the Dock Bill, the owner of an unpermitted and nonconforming private dock attached to a bay front lot may obtain the necessary permit (technically known as a “Letter of Consent” or “LOC”) from the DEP by filing a request for an LOC with Mark Miller in the Ft. Myers office of the DEP. Mark is most easily reached by email at Mark.Miller@dep.state.fl.us (Tel: 239-344-5600). Once DEP verifies the ownership of the bayfront lot and the configuration of the dock from DEP’s surveys, DEP will promptly issue the LOC completely “legalizing” the dock in its configuration as of March 1, 2013.
For the owners of interior lots with the right to use a designated community dock:
Pursuant to the Dock Bill, those lot owners with an “established right” to use a specific community dock must form an incorporated non-profit dock association to own, maintain, and regulate the use of the community dock. The incorporated association must then apply to DEP for a “Submerged Lands Lease” (“SLL”) granting the association the exclusive right to occupy the submerged bay bottom covered by the dock and its associated mooring area. An association applying for its SLL should contact Mark Miller in the Ft. Myers DEP office for information about the necessary elements of the application. Mark is most easily contacted by email at Mark.Miller@dep.state.fl.us (Tel: 239-344-5600). Once the association has obtained its SLL from DEP, the incorporated association will own, and completely control use of, the community dock. Any nonmember who uses the dock will be a trespasser on the association’s leased property.
When a newly incorporated association applies to DEP for a SLL on an existing LGI community dock, DEP will review the incorporation documents and by-laws of the association to assure that the association complies with the requirements set forth in the Dock Bill. The operative language of the Dock Bill is as follows:
“Section 3(1). Property owners who have an established right to use the existing dock have formed an incorporated dock association or incorporated homeowners association with by-laws that make membership equally available to all property owners who have an established right to use the existing dock, that provide all members with an equal voice in the governance of the association and an equal obligation to contribute to the maintenance of the dock, and that provide equal access to the dock for all members.”
The Dock Committee has developed a set of “guidelines” for the incorporation and structuring of a dock association that will conform to the requirements of the Dock Bill and will pass review by DEP when the association applies for its SLL. A copy of that document is posted in this same section of this LGPOA website. The Dock Committee also has drafted a set of model corporate by-laws that the Committee will make available to any attorney retained by the organizers of a dock association to draft the necessary incorporation documents. A copy of this document can be requested by the attorney from Dock Committee member Tom McCoy (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Although the Dock Committee’s formal work with DEP and the State Legislature is completed, the committee members remain available to assist by answering any questions about the Dock Bill, the grandfathering procedures, the formation of dock associations and obtaining submerged lands leases, and the current status of any island dock according to DEP’s inventory of the legal and illegal docks.