Becker & Poliakoff

Kathleen “Katie” O. Berkey, AICP

Shareholder

Additional Locations:
NaplesSarasota

kberkey@beckerlawyers.com

vCard

Kathleen “Katie” O. Berkey, AICP LinkedIn link.

Practices

Credentials

    Education

      • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, J.D.
        • Pro Bono Distinction
      • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Master of City and Regional Planning
        • Epsilon Eta Environmental Honors Fraternity
      • Sea Education Association, C-197, Study Abroad
        • Dean’s Award Recipient
      • Franklin & Marshall College, A.B. (Major: American Studies; Minor: Public Policy)
        • Magna Cum Laude
        • Phi Beta Kappa
        • Fred and Nancy Sener Prize in American Studies
        • Buchanan Scholar

       

    Bar Admissions

      • Florida

Testimonials

  • “I am (We are) completely enamored with your efforts and dedication to [us].” – M.K.

  • “I have not seen a better land use attorney who has been more prepared than you on this case.” – M.S.

  • “Let me start by saying, that sometimes I am frustrated in dealing with attorneys as at the end of the day I go away more confused than when I started and left kicking myself muttering ‘I paid all that money for this!’ However, in working with you – I have a big smile on my face. You clearly and quickly answered a vexing question we had and in doing so uncovered filed documents/records with details that we were previously not aware of and then performed a succinct and logical analysis of the situation quickly delivering your opinion back to the client. Thank You – Money very well spent in my book!” – B.S.

  • “I also owe [Katie] a HUGE thank you! Without [her] constant pushing and & follow-up [with the County, we would not have achieved our goal]. Thank you [to her] for everything [she] did to make this happen.” – HOA Client

  • “My compliments to her on her professionalism in providing timely, direct, understandable and actionable answers to my questions and her preparedness for the telephone inquiry in real time. Great client experience!” – L.W.

  • “Thank you for always being available to us on countless evenings and weekends during our project. I could not imagine hiring a more knowledgeable attorney to fit our needs. If there is ever another project for my neighborhood or one of the HOAs that I manage, I will certainly recommend you!” – J.W.

  • “You are hands down the most responsive and attentive attorney I have ever worked with. It has been a pleasure working with you.” – R.S.

  • “Kathleen, I cannot speak enough about just what a stellar job you’ve done. I am very impressed and there is not a pebble that you left untouched… You have been absolutely fabulous on this application. I mean it, your attention to detail, organizing the case, etc. – just phenomenal.” – T.P.

  • “Katie has steered our condominium association through amendments of our declarations and by laws. She has protected the association rights and property through a protracted rezoning and development process from a new developer that purchased the neighboring property. She was always available and had the uncanny ability to speak at the level of her audience. Katie is just a nice caring attorney that has earned the title of friend.” – T.A.

  • “Mrs. Berkey represented my interests in confronting a nasty and confrontational bank holding my original mortgage. I would’ve been overwhelmed and abused without her.” – J.M.

  • “Kathleen (Katie) Berkey is smart, bright, and passionate about using law to create a more sustainable future for our communities. With both a law degree and one in city and regional planning, Katie will be one of the major land use/environmental lawyers of her generation.” – D.S.

  • “Kathleen (Katie) has compassion and conviction for a range of legal and social issues, from urban planning to civil rights. I’m fortunate to have gotten to know her. She has an impeccable work ethic and unquestionable integrity.” – C.B.

  • “I can’t say enough good things about Kathleen. She is intelligent, diligent, and always completes the task at hand both efficiently and effectively. She is an asset to any project. It was a pleasure working with her.” – P.M.

  • “Kathleen did excellent work while with our firm. Very dedicated and loyal, with a top-tier work ethic. Worked well with others and provided superb customer service to one of our most important clients.” – T.K.

  • “Kathleen brought a professionalism and great enthusiasm to the project, and was a valued and trusted colleague.” – E.D.

  • “Responsible and Thorough. Pleasure to work with.” – J.M.

  • “Katie is a hard-working, detail-oriented, self-starter who is a true asset to any project she becomes affiliated with.” – M.B.

  • “On behalf of the Board of Directors…as well as the members of the community, I would like to thank [Ms. Berkey] for the time and effort [she] devoted to our representation before the City…[Her] careful and thoughtful planning was crucial to the unanimous decision we received in our favor and is very much appreciated.” – C.S.

Perspectives

  • Board Certified – City, County & Local Government Law

Bio

Kathleen “Katie” Berkey is a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist (BCS) in City, County and Local Government Law and a certified Professional Planner by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Ms. Berkey is the only practicing professional to hold both credentials in Southwest Florida and one of eight statewide. She represents clients in zoning, land use, development, and planning matters, including: representing clients before city and county commissions, councils, and boards in hearings throughout Southwest Florida and around the state; environmental resource and water use permitting; local and state code compliance; and private and government contracting and negotiation.

EXPERIENCE

  • Successfully advocated for and negotiated the terms of a County paving assessment agreement, which has been on hold for almost a year prior to being retained. The Agreement was unanimously approved by County Commission.
  • Advised neighborhood group opposed to adjacent rezoning of a low-impact professional office use to a 392-unit multifamily and a 16-unit townhome development. Application was withdrawn by the developer on the day of the City Council hearing (2021).
  • Counsels and advises on federal, state, and local laws and compliance in the areas of building and environmental permitting, growth management, planning, and zoning.
  • Coordinates due diligence, including utility plan review, surveys, zoning verifications, entitlement history review, environmental assessments, and title reports to ensure properties are acceptable for acquisition and development.
  • Prepares variance, special exception, rezoning, conditional use, easement vacation, development order, comprehensive plan amendment, and land development code amendment applications and shepherded through local government approval process.
  • Advocates for clients in planning and zoning matters before community groups, city councils, county commissions, and boards.
  • The delivery of expert witness planning and zoning testimony and preparation of related analysis, reports, and exhibits to support rezoning and/or comprehensive plan text and map amendment approvals for national student housing developer, national retail developer, national assisted living developer, and national multi-family developer.
  • Preparation of an expert planner’s report with compatibility and consistency analyses and related exhibits supporting the City’s denial of lot owner’s request for a setback variance that violates the community association client’s deed restrictions. The variance application was denied unanimously by the City’s Board of Adjustment in the client’s favor.
  • Successful challenge of a complaint filed by a unit owner with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes against condominium association client. The Division completed its investigation and found no violation on the part of the association.
  • Representation of condominium association client in negotiations with adjacent developer, who applied for a rezoning to Planned Development, and County staff. Successful with the negotiation of the exclusion of incompatible commercial uses, a substantial density reduction, increased setbacks, and increased buffering and screening. This includes the draft and negotiation of the terms of a shared use agreement to ensure the rezoning conditions of approval, as well as other terms and conditions, which would run with the land to protect the client’s interests.
  • Preparation of the due diligence and feasibility analyses to advise clients on the present status of entitlements, pending land use and development state and local legislation that may impact development potential, floodplain and environmental issues, required approvals and impact fees for desired development scheme, and utility availability.
  • Work with Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Southwest Florida Water Management District, South Florida Water Management District, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in regard to environmental permits, including water supply, water management, and environmental compliance.
  • Successful defense of numerous community association clients from alleged code enforcement complaints.
  • Successful challenge of dozens of unlawful claim of liens filed against community association client’s members by the developer — releasing all of them.
  • Representation of condominium client in negotiations with municipality and The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for beach re-nourishment services.
  • Successful negotiation with County staff, lobbied for their support of, and subsequently obtained future land use map amendment approval for private landowner clients.

RECOGNITION

  • Recognized in the 2023 and 2024 editions of The Best Lawyers in America®, one of the oldest and most revered peer review publications, in Community Association Law and Land Use and Zoning Law.
  • Named a “Florida Rising Star” by Super Lawyers (2021 – present). This peer designation is awarded only to a select number of accomplished attorneys in each state. The Rising Stars selection process takes into account peer recognition, professional achievement in legal practice, and other cogent factors.
  • Recognized by the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Women in Business Committee as the APEX Award recipient for exceling in the areas of professionalism, philanthropy, and leadership (2021).
  • Recognized by the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Women in Business Committee as an APEX Awards finalist (2021 and 2019).
  • Recognized by Zonta Club of Bonita Springs-Estero as “Woman of the Year” (2020).
  • Featured in the KNOW Book Fort Myers, Vol. 1 as a dynamic professional woman making an impact on Southwest Florida (2020).
  • Recognized by the Naples Herald as a “Top 40 Under 40” award recipient (2018).
  • Recognized by ​Florida Trend Magazine as one of “Florida’s Legal Elite” and “Legal Up & Comer” (2017).
  • Lee County Bar Association Pro Bono Award (2016).
  • Selected as “Top-Idea Maven,” The Woman’s Advantage® (2016, 2014).
  • Recognized as a distinguished professional and community leader and honored by ​Gulfshore Business​ as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” (2014).
  • Featured American Studies Alumna, Franklin & Marshall College (2014).
  • Q4 Fellowship Award, Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum (2011).
  • Best Social Media Interaction Award, Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association (2011).

PROFESSIONAL / COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES

  • Incoming Chair of Mission Advancement (2024), Management Committee Member (2011-Present), and Past Co-Chair of the Young Leaders Group (2012-2017) and Women’s Leadership Initiative (2013-2018)
  • Den Leader, Cub Scout Pack 3300, Fort Myers, Fla. (2021-2023)
  • Florida Bar’s City, County & Local Government Certification Committee (2021-2022)
  • Keep Lee County Beautiful, Inc., Director (2016-2019, 2021-Present), Vice Chair (2020-2021)
  • The KNOW Collaborative (2020-Present)
  • First Lee County Donor, Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida (2015-2016, 2017-2018, 2020-2021)
  • Director, Franklin & Marshall College Alumni Association Board (2013-2018)
  • Southwest Florida Regional Chair, Connect Florida Board of Governors (2013-2015)
  • Co-Chair, Pro Bono Service Committee of the Lee County Bar Association (2012-2014)
  • Connect Florida by Leadership Florida (2012-Present)
  • Lee County Bar Association (2011-Present)
  • Guardian ad Litem (2010-2014)
  • American Planning Association (2007-Present)