Dock Committee Guidelines for Forming an Association

To:  Users of LGI Community or Multi-Family Docks
From: LGI Dock Committee
Date:  June 13, 2014

Re:  Guidelines for the formation of an association for any existing multi-slip (or “community”) dock

To “grandfather” or “legalize” an existing multi-slip (or “community”) dock on LGI under the Dock Bill, an incorporated association must be formed to obtain the required Submerged Lands Lease from DEP.  Where a subdivision is currently served by a multi-slip dock without an incorporated association, a few of the lot owners must form a group of “incorporators” to obtain an initial corporate charter from the state.  The incorporated association for the multifamily dock must then obtain a Submerged Lands Lease from the Florida DEP for the bay bottom occupied by the existing dock and its mooring area.  This lease will give the association control of the dock and will make the association responsible for the payment of annual lease and maintenance costs.  If the users of any multifamily dock do not incorporate an association and do not obtain a Submerged Lands Lease before June 13, 2016, the dock will be subject to removal by the DEP.

When a new association applies to DEP for an initial Submerged Lands Lease (or the future renewal of a Submerged Lands Lease) for an existing multi-slip dock on LGI, the DEP will review the incorporation documents and by-laws of the association to ensure that the structure of the association meets the requirements set out in the Dock Bill. The operative language in the LGI 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 discussed these Dock Bill requirements with DEP in considerable detail.  On the basis of those discussions, the Dock Committee strongly recommends that any newly formed association be structured to conform to the following guidelines in order to meet the Dock Bill’s requirements and pass the DEP review.

1.  The association is incorporated under the laws of Florida as a not-for-profit corporation.

2.  Membership includes an equal right to vote in the management of the association, an equal right to use the dock, and an obligation to pay an equal share of the annual lease and maintenance costs.

3.  The corporate documents set forth a list of the addresses of all of the lots traditionally served by the multi-slip dock.

4.  Membership in the association is limited to the owners of all lots traditionally served by the dock.

5.  The owners of all lots traditionally served by the dock have the option to join the association as fully participating members.

6.  The option to join as a fully participating member may be exercised by an eligible lot owner at any time (upon payment of the appropriate share of annual membership costs) as long as the association owns the Submerged Lands Lease and controls the dock that has traditionally served that owner’s lot.

7.  Any fully participating member may withdraw from membership at any time, reinstating his/her option to join as a fully participating member at any time in the future (upon payment of annual membership costs and any initiation fees).

8.  Failure by any participating member to pay his/her share of the annual maintenance and lease costs will result in the termination of that membership (and termination of use of the dock) and will reinstate the terminated member’s option to join at any point in the future.

9.  Before it is exercised, the option to join does not allow participation in management of the association or the use of the dock, and carries no financial obligations.

10.  Membership in the association and the option to join as a full member is attached to ownership of a lot traditionally served by the dock, and a membership or the option to join automatically transfers to the new owner when ownership of the lot changes.

11.  At any time when the number of members exceeds the number of dock slips available under the association’s Submerged Lands Lease, no slip may be reserved for the exclusive use of, or appropriated for exclusive use by, any member without the express written consent of all current members.  In those circumstances, the addition of one or more new members to the association will require the execution of a new written consent by all members for the continuation of any existing exclusive slip assignment.

12.  No slip may be occupied by a member’s second boat or by the boat of a member’s guest if that slip is needed to allow the mooring of a first boat by any member.

In addition to the guidelines set forth above designed to meet the requirements of the Dock Bill, the Dock Committee recommends that the drafters of association by-laws consider the following suggestions in order to anticipate and avoid future problems:

1.  Explicitly provide that there is one membership for each eligible lot and where a lot is jointly owned, references to the “owner” or “member” shall refer to the joint owners collectively.  Joint owners must designate one of the owners as the voting representative for that single membership.

2.  Provide that a boat may occupy a slip at the dock only when the user of the boat is on LGI.  Storage of a boat at the dock when the member is not present on LGI is not permitted.

3.   Provide that when a member’s house is rented, the member’s right to use the dock is transferred to the renter under all the conditions that apply to the member’s use of the dock.  During the period of the rental, the owner’s use of the dock shall be treated as use by a “guest” of the renter.

4.  Provide that no member or member’s renter may authorize any use of the dock by anyone who is not a current occupant of or visitor in the member’s residence on LGI.  Explicitly prohibit any member from “renting out” or otherwise transferring his/her membership separately from the rental of the member’s house.

5.  Provide for interest or “late fees” for late payment of the member’s annual share of the costs of the lease and dock maintenance.  Provide a specified period after which the member’s membership will be terminated (and his/her right to join at any time will be reinstated) for nonpayment of the member’s share of the costs.

6.  Provide for some “initiation fee” or initial payment for each member to share the initial cost of the capital improvements when a member joins after initial creation of the association.

7.  Provide a mechanism for the election of officers.

8.  Provide a mechanism by which members can initiate a change in the by-laws (e.g., proposal signed by five members will require vote of entire membership).