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Environmental Resource Permitting (ERP) and Sovereign Submerged Lands (SSL) Rules

Linkage and Delegation Rules

Chapter 18-21
Florida Administrative Code


PURPOSE: Two changes have been made to Chapter 18-21, F.A.C., which governs authorizations to use sovereign submerged lands. These amendments are intended to help streamline the process for obtaining both a regulatory and a proprietary authorization.

The first amendment, Section 18-21.00401, F.A.C., known as the LINKAGE RULE, links the review and issuance (or denial) of a proprietary authorization to use sovereign submerged lands with the review and issuance (or denial) of a regulatory authorization (an environmental resource permit, a wetland resource permit, or a joint coastal permit).

  • A single application would be used by people seeking both regulatory authorization and proprietary authorization.
  • Both forms of authorization would follow a single time line regarding the completeness of the application and issuance or denial of the authorization. However, failure to satisfy these time frames would not result in approval by default of the application to use sovereign submerged lands.
  • Regulatory authorizations are processed by the Department, as well as the Suwannee River Water Management District, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and the South Florida Water Management District (Districts). An activity-based division of responsibilities between the agencies is used to determine which agency will process which permit application. The Districts will review the proprietary authorization request to use sovereign submerged lands whenever they are responsible the corresponding regulatory application. The Districts will also act as staff to the Board of Trustees in the same manner as was previously performed by the Department. Therefore, the applicant will be dealing with only one state agency.

This linkage will have the effect of eliminating situations in which a regulatory permit is granted for an activity that does not qualify for a proprietary authorization, or vice versa.

The second amendment, Section 18-21.0051, F.A.C., also known as the DELEGATION RULE gives the decision-making authority of the Board of Trustees, for certain actions regarding the use of sovereign submerged lands, to the Department and to the above cited water management districts. Trustees' delegations have been granted previously by policy, however Section 253.002(2), F.S., required codification of this delegation in rule.

The decision-making authority would remain with the Board of Trustees, for the following:

  • Docking facilities with more than 50 slips & modifications consisting of the addition of more than 10% of the number of existing slips where the total of the existing and proposed number of slips is more than 50;
  • Docking facilities having a preempted area of more than 50,000 sq. ft. & modifications consisting of the addition of more than 10% of the existing preempted area where the total of the existing and preempted area is more than 50,000 sq. ft.;
  • Private easements of more than 5 ac.;
  • The establishment of a mitigation bank; or
  • Any project found to be of concern to one or more Board member.

March 29, 1995, the Board of Trustees approved an interim delegation of this authority to the Department. Since then, the Department has been implementing the delegation.

The effect of this delegation would be to shorten the time and reduce the number of levels of review for the proprietary decision-making process. This will also facilitate the concurrent processing of the linked applications (proprietary and regulatory) by the Department and the Districts, as described above.

This delegation will not lessen environmental protection of public lands, as the criteria for approval or denial of the use of sovereign submerged lands is clearly laid out in rules approved by the Trustees.

The overall effect of both the linkage and the delegation rules will be to simplify and accelerate regulatory and proprietary reviews, issuances, and denials. By enabling the staff of one agency to perform both of these reviews for a given project it will increase efficiency and reduce costs for the regulated public and the State.

Last updated: November 26, 2013

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