Questions about liveaboard regulations / feasibility in Pinellas County, FL Subm Land
Location; Pinellas County Florida.
Canals dredged in the 40’s or 50’s (not naturally submerged).
Houses on the canal were built in 1950’s 60’s and maybe 70’s. (Single
The developer was the owner of record of the property that was dredged
to become the canal.
The son of the developer sold the submerged land (the canals) to a
third party in the late 1990’s or the early 2000’s.
55 docks are situated on 4 canals with the submerged land being owned
by a private third party.
The canals are salt water and lead to Tampa Bay, then to the Gulf of
Each dock is adjacent to a house and a residential lot. The owners of
the adjacent upland houses likely think they own the docks and have
never considered who may own the submerged land that the docks are
actually constructed upon.
With the permission of the owner of the submerged land, would live
aboard vessels be permitted?
Does this depend on local ordinances, local zoning, state laws, other?
Would the local power, water, and other utility companies provide
utilities to the live aboard boats / docks / residents?
Some of the 55 houses adjacent to the docks are in foreclosure,
abandoned, or otherwise vacant and being ignored. These vacant houses
might be a good place to start docking if these questions can be
answered in a light favorable to live aboard.
I posed some of these questions along with other general questions
regarding submerged land. This particular answer / response was very
informative and interesting. It specifies other parcels that are very
similar, almost exactly the same, as the parcel I refer to above.
Here is the answer mentioned above;
This summarizes a number of examples and is not meant to be fully
comprehensive. After reading about these examples, one would wonder
how many similar situations exist in Pinellas County. If you are aware
of any, or find any, please reply to this post with details.
The most publicized transactions involving submerged land occurred
when Pinellas County sold the submerged real estate adjacent to 61
waterfront homes to a buyer named Don Connelly for a price of $2000 at
a tax deed sale. Depending which source you rely on, this sale to Mr.
Connelly happened in either November 2001, or February 2002.
After Connelly purchased the submerged parcel he put a price of
$100,000 per dock on the property. He requested that the neighboring
residents, who thought the docks to be theirs, stop using the docks
and said he would fence off the docks if they did not respect his
rights as owner of the land on which the docks were constructed.
Lawyers got involved. Reportedly, a suit was filed which accused
Connolly of being ‘unfair’ and accused the County of failing to follow
proper procedures. No criminal charges were filed against Connelly
relating to the purchase or sale of this real estate. Pinellas County
started telling the waterfront residents that before they could modify
their docks, they needed to ask for permission from Connelly. The
affected waterfront residents and the lawyers who represented them
quickly started making offers to buy the property. Connelly accepted
an offer of $18,000. The money was paid by a married couple, Geoff and
Tammy Apthrop. They are one of the families who wanted to use one of
the docks on what was Connelly’s property. The dock they wanted to use
was directly behind their own recently purchased home.
Now, the new owners of the submerged property seemed to share
similarities with the unpopular individual they had just purchased the
property from. They, purportedly with help from lawyers, wrote letters
to their neighbors demanding equal reimbursement from each neighbor
for their respective submerged land and dock. No reports surfaced
regarding how many neighbors eventually ‘chipped in’ their fair share,
if there were any that refused to do so, or if any that refused to pay
were ever denied access to their docks.
By many accounts, Connelly seemed to be regarded as schemer and as a
rogue speculator. There are facts, however, that seem to be difficult
to dispute. Connelly owned the property. Even the affected residents
came to believe and realize that what he did was legal. Connelly
wanted to sell the land he had purchased for an arguably very large
profit. Putting emotions, personalities, etc. aside, this happens
every day in every way, in every nook and cranny of the USA; someone
selling something at a very large profit.
What happens when an entity that owns submerged land approaches the
sale differently, and is perceived to be ‘professional’ and ‘proper’?
A company called Bayesplanade.com LLC, by looking at public records,
seems to have had considerable real estate holdings on the valuable
barrier island called Clearwater Beach. It appears that a significant
portion of their real assets on the beach has been, and still is,
submerged land. While this LLC is still the owner of record for large
tracts of submerged land, they have sold off some such parcels. Parcel
05-29-15-00000-320-0100 is one such parcel. It is adjacent to a small
hotel on Clearwater Beach, and has a dock constructed on it. This
parcel was sold to Jake Enterprises at a price of $18,000. No
lawsuits, no news coverage, just a deal between two real estate owners
on 9/19/2007. Bayesplanade.com LLC also sold what used to be parcel
05-29-15-00000-340-0100 to the contiguous upland property owner. Like
each of the prior examples, there was a dock already on the property.
The price was $5900 on 5/4/2007.
If success is measured either by the most money, the amount of
property sold, or by the most buyers of underwater property, the most
successful and prolific sellers of submerged land, and actual docks in
recent history seem to be John and Nancy Modica. Mr. and Mrs. Modica
sold parcel 05-29-15-54756-077-0060 to Boca Ciega Dock Owners, Inc for
$60,000. This parcel is contiguous to a condominium development, and
once again, already had a dock on it at the time it was sold.
Apparently, the buyer of the submerged parcel and the dock was already
using the dock at the time the purchase was made. Reportedly, they
wanted to make improvements to the dock. They were told that before
they could obtain a permit to improve the dock, they had to have the
approval and/or the participation of the owner of the dock and the
parcel on which the dock was constructed. This issue of permitting for
dock improvement seems to be similar to what transpired in the case of
The Modicas appear to have sold at least 2 or 3 dozen more submerged
parcels to respective contiguous upland property owners as well. For
each of the below examples, I have included an Official Record book
and page number so that these transactions may be easily verified and
Adjacent Upland Address Price Sale Date OR BK/PAGE
6904 SOUTH SHORE DR SOUTH $1,500 6/1/1998 10115/0752
7092 S SHORE DR S $2,500 8/21/1998 10211 / 1317
7088 S SHORE DR S $2,500 8/25/1998 10215/0085
7056 S SHORE DR $2,500 10/26/1998 10281/1135
7112 S SHORE DR $2,500 4/9/1999 10472/2160
7072 SOUTH SHORE DR S $2,500 4/14/1999 10478/2515
7040 S SHORE DR $2,500 4/13/2000 10877/1370
7050 S SHORE DR SOUTH $2,500 6/1/2000 10929/1685
7068 S SHORE DR SOUTH $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1043
7064 SOUTH SHORE DR S $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1048
7020 SOUTH SHORE DR $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1053
7172 SOUTH SHORE DR S $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/0919
7168 S SHORE DR $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/0922
7164 S SHORE DR $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/0925
7132 S SHORE DR S $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/0927
7008 S SHORE DR $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1062
7004 S SHORE DR $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1067
6900 S SHORE DR $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1071
6948 S SHORE DR S $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1081
6956 S SHORE DR $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1084
6984 S SHORE DR $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1088
6996 S SHORE DR $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1091
7000 S SHORE DR $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1102
7160 SOUTH SHORE DR S $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1102
7148 S SHORE DR S $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1105
7144 S SHORE DR $1,300 8/25/2000 11027/1108
The three aforementioned sellers seem to have done very well on the
investments they made in submerged land.
There are a few examples of submerged land owners who have not sold
their submerged interests to adjacent upland owners (yet?). These
owners of record have owned the properties for several years. A reason
for this may be the fact the property taxes are minimal on these
Not a single case comes to light in which a completely submerged
parcel is appraised as having a dock as an extra feature. Instead, in
every instance found, the value of the dock is assessed, appraised,
and taxed as part of the value of the immediately adjacent house and
property. This seems to be completely unique to the appraisal and
taxation of docks as an ‘extra feature’. Sheds, pools, patios, etc,
are never taxed to neighboring property owners, naturally they count
towards the value of the property on which they are constructed.
So, the neighbors of the submerged land owners essentially pay the
lion’s share of any taxes on the value submerged areas and docks. This
would seem to make ownership of the submerged land an effortless and
very affordable endeavor. This may be why some owners of submerged
land have held their parcels for sometimes decades, seemingly almost
forgetting about them until they are ready to capitalize or a seller-
friendly market, or on their own financial circumstances.
With a pattern of great returns on this type of real estate, one would
wonder when, not if, these land owners will endeavor to reap some
rewards from what appears to have been a wise investment decision.
Parcel # 04-31-15-00000-340-0100 is in Lake Seminole. Looking at the
aerial map presented by the county property appraiser on their web
site, it appears that there are 4 houses contiguous to this submerged
parcel. Adjacent to each of the contiguous lots with houses, there is
a dock constructed directly on the submerged parcel.
The owner of this property, seemingly, may have some VERY valuable
real estate. How much would the market bear if he decided the best
business decision would be to rent the docks rather then sell them? If
each dock were rented for $100 per month, that comes to a payout of
$400 per month.
The neighboring parcel to the south of the Lake Seminole parcel
discussed above, # 15-30-15-00000-410-0200 was purchased at a tax deed
sale on April 4th for a price of $1100. There are 5-6 adjacent upland
residential lots, each with a house.
The owner of record of (Lake Seminole) parcel 15-30-15-00000-410-0200
also owns a submerged parcel in the wide waters of Boca Ciega Bay,
parcel # 04-31-15-00000-340-0100. The price paid for this parcel at
tax deed sale, on 4/7/1994, was $900. This appears to be in the same
general area where the Modicas and Mr. Connelly owned and sold their
submerged land. This parcel is contiguous to 3 upland residential
lots, each with a house. The assessed values of these houses are
$343,086, $350,014, and $408,000.
In this case, if the ability to be able to have exclusive use of a
dock and submerged land can be calculated at a mere 3% of the value of
a waterfront home, the value of this submerged parcel is over $33,000.
Anyone trying to obtain a permit to construct a dock in Pinellas
County must sign agreeing; ‘it is my responsibility to obtain any
necessary permits and approvals applicable for the proposed activities
on either private or sovereign owned submerged land.
Holey Wall of TEXT BATMAN
gl finding the answer
GREETINGS EARTHLING ; (I live in UK different rules apply) Ask your town hall archive Dep. what rights of access you have? (get a hard coppy) What rights the ower has? are there any covernants to the said land, and what are they? ask the Wrong questions to the right people to get the answers you need (Do not be afraide of closed doors knock on bigger doors till they open) form a residents assocation go public in local paper rembering to include the ecolgy side of thing POWER TO YOUR ELBOW GO SAFE
Interesting situation regarding the ownership of the submerged land, but living aboard over any of this land would still be subject to federal, state, and local laws.
I would also think that anyone who had built a dock, and used it for dozens of years, would have a pretty good case for an adverse possession suit against the owner of the submerged land if the owner wanted to start charging rent.
The legally recorded deed rules. If bank forecloses then they own whatever is in the deed. Use is controlled by local zoning codes.
To answer your initial question, yes the idea of "liveaboard" would need approval on all fronts
mentioned, i.e., Federal/State/County/City Zoning laws, submerged land owner's permission,
CG, and I'm sure Deed Restrictions would play a part as well.
To the "does the electric company bring power to the docks", that would more than likely
be a "no". There may even be utility easement issues at play if the power lines are all in
the front of the houses. Usually, in these underground utility developments, most of the
easements are in the front 10-15' of the property and the owner of said house is required
to take the power/water/gas/sewer/etc. onward to the home itself.
And finally, easement for access to these docks will come into play at some point. Sure,
"John Doe" may own the submerged land and even the docks, but he/she doesn't own the
property that would allow you to walk across land to get to them. Living aboard anywhere
is going to require you to be able to get off the boat at some point, so keep that in mind.
If it came to be that the dock behind my house belonged to someone else, I can assure
you that NO ONE would use it, because I'd deny access to it. Not many people would want
to dock their boat, then swim to the closest public access point to get off it.
pinellas, why don't you try painting with a bigger brush?
Don't confuse your lot or one lot with everything that may have been done in your county. You are dealing with titled real estate and you need to focus on the one plot(s) that you are interested in. What their title chain has been. What the state laws are. And you totally missed the concept of adverse possession, if Florida recognizes that the title to the underwater property may have been lost to the adjacent landowners.
By all means if you've got money to play with and don't mind the chance of losing it all, roll the dice. Otherwise, buy whatever you want from someone who has a clear recorded title and make sure you get title insurance on it, in case that title wasn't so good after all.
Taxes and appraisals? Can be wrong. They're only an opinion, they don't change title, as far as I know. Owning submerged property, or bottom rights, is not at all unusual in many parts of the US.
I'm wondering what if you fell off of the dock adjacent to your home into the submerged land, would the owner of the submerged land be held libel? Sounds like the land owner allowed the dock to be built and has not carried insurance for it. I'm not one to go running to the courts on a whim but if I were either party I'd want to know
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