Lee County 50% Rule Changes To follow-up on my previous post, on November 8, the Lee County Commissioners considered several changes to facilitate repairs to buildings damaged by Hurricane Ian. The most significant changes involve how the “50% Rule” will be calculated.

The calculations for the 50% Rule along with other guidelines relating to the 50% rule are based on local regulation. Lee County Board of Commissioners were presented with and approved the following changes:

  • Allowing for a “permit-by-permit” valuation of the cost of repairs. The past County regulations required a cumulative consideration of improvements made over the previous 5 years. This change would not apply to “repetitive loss” properties that have received two or more NFIP payouts in excess of $1000 over a 10-year period.
  • Amending cumulative period for “repetitive loss” properties from 5 years to 1 year for 50% calculation.
  • Updating elevation requirements for manufactured homes in special flood hazard areas and coastal high hazard areas.
  • Amendment reflecting that the newest version of FEMA flood insurance rate maps for Lee County take effect November, 17, 2022.


Continue Reading Outcome of November 8 Lee County’s Meeting Regarding 50% Rule for Hurricane Ian Repairs

At its upcoming Special Meeting on November 8, the Lee County Commission will consider several changes to facilitate repairs to buildings damaged by Hurricane Ian.  The Local Planning Agency (LPA) will consider and make a recommendation on the proposed changes at its meeting on November 7.

The most significant changes involve how the “50% Rule” will be calculated.  The 50% Rule, required by FEMA as part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), states that repairs to damaged structures cannot exceed 50% of the value of the building unless the structure is brought into full compliance with current flood regulations, including minimum finished floor elevations.

Continue Reading Lee County to Consider Changes to 50% Rule to Facilitate Hurricane Ian Repairs

short term rentalsSouthwest Florida is a prime location for people to bring their family and friends to vacation. Whether it’s the golf, beaches, or just the beautiful weather, Southwest Florida has solidified itself as a great destination for vacations. This has made tourism a major industry, and one of the biggest areas of tourism is hotels and rentals for families staying in the area.

However, in recent years families have been more inclined to try to rent a home for a short period rather than booking a hotel room. According to Section 509.013(4)(a)(1.) of Florida Statutes, a short-term rental is defined as a residence rented for less than thirty days and rented out more than three times a year.

With the rise of the vacation rental industry, local governments and their residents have seen the impacts they have on the community. This led to two major questions – how can local governments regulate these short-term rentals or how can they prohibit them?

History of Short-Term Rentals

Vacation rentals have always been popular but were not always readily available or easy to find. A revolution occurred in the early 2000s with the rise of the internet and along with that came online rental platforms. Now there are many different platforms, such as Airbnb and VRBO, which made short-term rentals much more available. Further, this led to an overall increase in the number of rentals available.

This increase in rentals led to issues amongst local governments and their citizens because of the impacts short-term rentals had on the community, both positive and negative. Local governments began to ban or create regulations around these short-term rentals. Because of the divide and lack of consistency in regulation by local governments, the Florida legislature created a law that prohibited any local government from banning short-term rentals and limited how they may be regulated.

Effect of the New Legislation


Continue Reading Can Your Local Government Ban Short Term Vacation Rentals?

ConsiderWhether you are involved in rezoning land or obtaining a special exception, conditional use, variance, development order, or other entitlement to land in Florida, you will likely need approval from the local government where the property is located. But what if your request is denied? This article explores some of the common remedies available to an applicant in the event their application is denied.

If your application is denied, it’s important to know your options. While some jurisdictions have administrative remedies available for an applicant to exhaust (e.g., rehearing, reconsideration, administrative appeals, etc.), others may not. It is important to be familiar with local rules, including land regulations, ordinances, administrative codes, and any applicable staff interpretations. Exhaustion of available non-judicial remedies is an important consideration in any potential land use challenge.

In addition to exhaustion of any available local remedies, the following is a brief overview of some common legal remedies that could be available to an applicant in the event of a denial:

Petition for writ of certiorari

This process involves filing a fairly-detailed petition with the local circuit court within 30 days from the date of the denial. It can take many months, even years, to conclude. This is the typical “zoning appeal,” and the standard of review is whether the local government’s decision is supported by competent substantial evidence, whether there were any procedural due process violations, and whether the decision maker followed the essential requirements of the law. See Deerfield Beach v. Vaillant, 419 So.2d 624 (Fla. 1982). Each party typically pays its own legal fees.

“Consistency challenge”


Continue Reading What options are available to challenge denial of a land use application in Florida?

It is hardly a secret that one of the many draws of Southwest Florida is the accessibility of owning property along the beaches, rivers, and canals that make the area paradise for residents and visitors alike. Waterfront ownership, or littoral ownership, comes with a unique set of rights, such as the right to access and construct improvements on the water. These rights however are not absolute, as various other stakeholders and environmental interests possess similar rights.

What Regulations Apply to Construction of Waterfront Structures?

In terms of constructing improvements such as docks, boatlifts, piers and other artificial structures, the State and County governments have developed legal regimes designed to balance these competing interests and effectively manage the aquatic resources of the State. These statutes and regulations are often difficult to navigate for homeowners and developers unfamiliar with the specific characteristics of waterfront ownership. Careful attention to these statutes and regulations must be paid in order to avoid fines, construction delays, or even being required to remove non-conforming structures.

What Laws Apply to My Property?


Continue Reading Construction of Docks, Piers, and Other Waterfront Structures in Southwest Florida

Due to the growing use by local governments of certain quasi-judicial code enforcement proceedings to obtain compliance with their local land use and zoning regulations, it is important for Florida property owners and business operators to have a thorough understanding of administrative enforcement proceedings.

Local Government Enforcement Authority

Florida’s statutory scheme governing local code enforcement procedures is divided into two separate parts under Chapter 162 of Florida Statutes. There is no statutory provision prohibiting local governments from enforcing their land use development and zoning regulations by other means. Section 162.13 provides that the provisions of Chapter 162 are supplemental procedures for local governments to achieve code compliance and are therefore intended “to provide an additional or supplemental means of obtaining compliance with local [government] codes.”

Penalties and Fines


Continue Reading How Can Local Governments in Florida Enforce Compliance With Their Land Use & Zoning Regulations?

hurricane-92968_1280On October 3, 2016, in response to a five-day forecast from the National Hurricane Center for Hurricane Matthew, a major storm which is expected to impact large portions of the east coast, the Governor issued Executive Order Number 16-230 declaring a 60 day State of Emergency throughout every Florida county.

Legal Authority for State of Emergency Permit Extensions

As explained in prior blog posts, Section 252.363, Florida Statutes, provides that certain qualifying permitees are entitled to extensions following a declared State of Emergency for the amount of time the declaration was in effect, plus an additional six (6) months. In order to obtain such an extension under this statute, permitees are required to submit a written notification to the appropriate authorizing agency (i.e., City, County, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), or Water Management District) within 90 days after the State of Emergency has expired.

Development Permits Eligible for State of Emergency Permit Extensions


Continue Reading Development Approvals in All Florida Counties Eligible for Extensions under State of Emergency Declared for Hurricane Matthew

For the possible record number of attendees at July’s Real Estate Investment Society (“REIS”) luncheon, this won’t be news. For those folks who may have missed it, Assistant County Attorney Michael Jacob and Lee County Planning Manager Mikki Rozdolski walked us through the newly created Pine Island Transfer of Development Rights Program that is not

From left to right: Ryan Binkowski and Alexis Crespo (Waldrop Engineering) with Molly Maggiano and Austin Turner (Henderson Franklin)
From left to right: Ryan Binkowski and Alexis Crespo (Waldrop Engineering) with attorneys Molly Maggiano and Austin Turner (Henderson Franklin)

This year’s two day Urban Land Institute (ULI) Annual Florida Summit was held in Miami at the Turnberry Isle Resort and was comprised of more than 650 attendees. The theme of this year’s event was Creative Disruption: “The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be.”

The mission of ULI is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. ULI is an independent global nonprofit supported by the top real estate professionals from throughout the state including developers, attorneys, engineers, architects, and land use planners, from both the private and public sector.

The “Creative Class”

Continue Reading “The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be”- 2016 ULI Florida Summit

The term “due diligence” gets thrown around a lot in the development world, but often with little regard for what the term entails. As with all things relating to property, this post is in no way intended to encompass all considerations in due diligence as properties are unique and present specific needs of review. However, the following list provides a brief glimpse into items to review when you are considering the purchase of real property for development in Southwest Florida:
Continue Reading 8 Practical Tips for Land Use Due Diligence in Southwest Florida