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Submerged Land Leases [Lowndes Leasing Lawyers]

June 24, 2021

Lowndes attorney Gary Kaleita discusses important considerations when acquiring a property with a submerged land lease. 

The Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund of the State of Florida (the Board of Trustees) is vested with title to all land lying under navigable waters within the State of Florida, which land is known as sovereignty submerged lands. The term “navigable waters” is the subject of significant Florida statutory and case law too complex to discuss here, but generally refers to any waters that are navigable for useful public purposes, such as the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and large rivers and lakes of the state. (Smaller bodies of water such as creeks, streams and small lakes may require a case-by-case analysis.)

An owner whose property adjoins sovereignty submerged lands generally has a common law right to use and enjoy the adjacent water for viewing, swimming, fishing, bathing, boating and similar passive purposes, but this does not entitle the upland owner to build structures in the water, such as ramps, docks, boathouses, marinas and the like. These activities require an upland owner to obtain a lease of the adjoining sovereignty submerged lands from the Board of Trustees. Chapter 18-21, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), sets forth the rules that guide the Board of Trustees in that regard. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) serves as staff to the Board of Trustees in administering the State’s sovereignty submerged lands leasing program.

In order to obtain a sovereignty submerged lands lease, the owner must submit an application to FDEP. If the upland property owner’s lease application is approved by FDEP, the lease will be for a standard term of 10 years if it pertains to a residential (including multi-family) property, or a marina where at least 90% of the slips are maintained for rent to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Otherwise the term will be for 5 years.  [Read more]

This is an excerpt from a blog post originally written on Lowndes Leasing Lawyers

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With more than 30 years of experience in real estate law, including over 20 years as a Board-certified expert in the field, Gary Kaleita has acquired the ability to navigate the complexities of sophisticated real estate deals with relative ease.

Gary has a wide variety of experience in real estate development, finance and transactions, condominiums, property owners’ associations, commercial leasing, commercial lending, and title insurance.

Gary enjoys a reputation for anticipating and avoiding problems, rather than merely reacting to them. He has years of experience handling purchases, sales and financings of commercial and residential projects, including office, industrial, retail, multi-family, single-family, condominium, resort, hotel and golf course properties. Gary has prepared and negotiated contracts for sale and purchase, performed due diligence investigations, and handled all aspects of closings, including issuance of title insurance and legal opinions. He has also performed tax free exchanges (both forward and reverse) under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, and has handled closings for housing revenue bond financing transactions with the Florida Housing Finance Corporation and various local housing finance authorities.

In the area of real estate development, Gary has assisted developers in obtaining land use approvals, plat approvals and permits for various developments from a number of jurisdictions in Central Florida, including planned developments (PD’s) and Developments of Regional Impact (DRI’s). He has drafted and negotiated complex land use documents, including development agreements, cost-sharing agreements, declarations of covenants, conditions, restrictions and easements. He also has experience in mall and shopping center developments, including outparcels, and has assisted developers with the selection, formation and operation of business entities, including commercial and residential property owners associations. He has extensive experience with the formation and operation of both commercial and residential condominiums as well.

In addition, Gary has established somewhat of a boutique practice by acting as local counsel to help out-of-state lenders, investors and law firms navigate the complexities of Florida real estate law. He is frequently engaged by large national and international law firms needing assistance on a variety of issues for their clients doing business in Florida. Gary regularly provides advice on Florida law and custom pertaining to purchase and sale contracts as well as loan documents, addresses local due diligence issues, answers questions involving titles, surveys and title insurance, and provides Florida legal opinions.

Not just another real estate lawyer, before pursuing his career in law Gary served as a U.S. Naval officer on active duty for 4 years in the Mediterranean Sea, first with a patrol gunboat squadron in Italy and then at a communications station in Greece. During this period he traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. He believes his military experience is the source of the practical approach he has developed to problem solving.

Gary also took the initiative, after a homeowner in his own neighborhood was mauled by a Florida black bear in 2013, of researching what his homeowners’ association could do to limit the likelihood of future attacks. In the process, he became an expert in the subject of “bear-wise” communities and drafted a policy that his own homeowners’ association adopted, thereby becoming the first residential community to be officially recognized as bear-wise by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). He has since written and spoken extensively on this subject, serves on the FWC’s Central Bear Management Unit Stakeholder Group, and has become a resource for FWC to educate other communities on the importance of bear-wise practices in areas of Florida containing black bear habitat.

Gary focuses on finding pragmatic solutions to complex problems, recognizing that clients want sensible and realistic advice in a timely manner so they can go about their business.

Chambers USA (2015)* reports that Gary has substantial experience acting as lender’s counsel and is acclaimed by market sources as an “extremely responsive, very practical and reasonable” practitioner.

*We make no guarantees or promises that the reader will realize the same or similar results

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