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, and planning matters, including: representing clients in local government administrative matters before city and county commissions, councils, and boards; environmental resource and water use permitting; local and state code compliance; and private and government contracting and negotiation. As a certified Professional Planner, she is qualified to provide expert witness testimony on zoning, land use, and planning issues. Ms. Berkey also represents condominium, cooperative, and homeowners’ association clients with the management and operational aspects of governing their communities, as well as zoning and land use matters. Prior to joining the firm, she practiced community association, land use, zoning, and local government law, working closely with federal, state, and municipal agencies and served as a Senior Planner and Project Manager for a national planning, design, and engineering consultant.
- 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.
- Named among a 2021 “Florida Rising Star” by Super Lawyers. 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 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” as a “Legal Up & Comer” (2017).
- Recognized as a distinguished professional and community leader and honored by Gulfshore Business as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” (2014).
PROFESSIONAL / COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES
- Florida Bar’s City, County & Local Government Certification Committee (2021-Present)
- Keep Lee County Beautiful, Inc., Director (2016-2019), 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)
- Management Committee, Urban Land Institute Southwest Florida (2011-Present) and Past Co-Chair of the Young Leaders Group and Women’s Leadership Initiative
- Lee County Bar Association (2011-Present)
- Guardian ad Litem (2010-2014)
- American Planning Association (2007-Present)