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Ohio Submerged Lands Lease (3-OH-e)

In Ohio, a developer may need to obtain a Submerged Lands Lease from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) for any structure along Lake Erie. O.R.C. §§ 1506.1 et seq., Coastal Management establishes the waters of Lake Erie, the lands under those waters, and the shoreline adjacent to the lake as held in trust by the State of Ohio. The ODNR’s Office of Coastal Management is the agency responsible for the protection of those lands and waters and the enforcement of the State’s rights to those lands and waters. O.R.C. § 1506.10. These powers include the leasing of those protected lands, so long as the execution of that lease is done “without impairment of the public right of navigation, water commerce, and fishery.” O.R.C. § 1506.11.

Submerged Lands Lease Process

3-OH-e.1 – Contact Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) (Optional)

The developer may wish to contact the ODNR’s Office of Coastal Management to discuss the project and to determine which ODNR authorizations the project will require. ODNR Office of Coastal Management Permits and Leases Webpage.

3-OH-e.2 –Resolution

Before submitting a Submerged Lands Lease Application (“Application”), the developer must first obtain a resolution from the local legislative authority (e.g., port authority, municipality, or county) declaring that the submerged lands specified in the Application are not needed for “the construction, maintenance, or operation . . . of breakwaters, piers, docks, wharves, bulkheads, connecting ways, water terminal facilities, and improvements and marginal highways in aid of navigation and water commerce” and that their use complies with local waterfront plans. O.R.C. § 1506.11(B); Coastal Guidance Sheet No. 2.

The developer should include the following information when requesting a resolution:

  • The tax map parcel ID, street address, and a location map for the parcel upland of the project;
  • A copy of the construction drawings;
  • Instructions on where to send the resolution.

See Coastal Guidance Sheet No. 4 for legislative authority contact information.

3-OH-e.3 – Submerged Lands Lease Application

The developer must complete the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Coastal Permits and Lease Application and mail it to the Ohio Office of Coastal Management.

The Submerged Lands Lease Application must contain the following information:

  1. Property owner information;
  2. Site location description
  3. Name of adjoining shoreline property owner(s);
  4. A brief description of the proposed structure or project;
  5. Anticipated start and finish dates;
  6. Total area of submerged lands to be occupied;
  7. Upland deed recording information;
  8. Local authority issuing the resolution;
  9. Whether any portion of the structure was erected in Lake Erie before October 13, 1955;
  10. A brief explanation of the purpose of the structure or project.

The developer must also submit the following:

  1. Location map;
  2. Construction drawings (see Coastal Permits and Lease Applications Booklet at 11-15 for instructions);
  3. Copy of the title deed;
  4. Metes and bounds description and plat;
  5. Local resolution or ordinance;
  6. Legal documentation of signature authority.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Coastal Permits and Lease Application.

There is no fee for a Submerged Lands Lease, but the developer may need to hire an Ohio-registered professional surveyor to establish the lease boundary. Coastal Guidance Sheet No. 3.

3-OH-e.4 to 3-OH-e.5 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

The ODNR reviews the submitted Application to determine if it is complete and if the project complies with Ohio law, including Ohio’s coastal management policies. If the application is incomplete, the ODNR requests the additional needed information from the developer within sixty (60) days of receipt of the Application. O.A.C. § 1501-6-02. The developer must submit the requested additional information within a reasonable time, otherwise the ODNR may return the Application as incomplete. O.A.C. § 1501-6-02; Coastal Guidance Sheet No. 3.

3-OH-e.6 – Give Notice of Application Filing

Upon receipt of the completed Application, the ODNR must give public notice of the filing in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the project is located. The ODNR may also give notice of the filing to the relevant local legislative authority. O.R.C. § 1506.11(C).

3-OH-e.7 – Does the ODNR Decide to Hold a Public Hearing?

The ODNR may also determine that a public hearing is necessary if there is insufficient information upon which to base a decision or if there are significant unresolved issues. O.A.C. § 1501-6-04. Public notice of the hearing must be in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the project is located once a week for four (4) consecutive weeks before the date of the hearing. However, notice of the filing and notice of the public hearing may be combined. O.R.C. § 1506.11(C).

3-OH-e.8 – Hold Public Hearing

All hearings are held before the Director of the ODNR. The hearing must be open to the public and a record must be made of the proceeding. Parties to the case are entitled to present evidence and/or provide testimony, and to be represented by counsel. The developer must pay all costs of the hearings, including publication costs. O.R.C. § 1506.11(C); O.A.C. § 1501-6-04.

3-OH-e.9 – Findings and Order

The findings and final order of the Director must be in writing. O.R.C. § 1506.11(C).

3-OH-e.10 – Review Application

The ODNR reviews the Application, which usually includes a visit to the site of the proposed project. Based on its review, the ODNR may submit comments on the Application to the developer, noting any specific concerns that need to be addressed. The developer may need to modify the proposed project to address any conflicts with applicable laws and policies. Coastal Guidance Sheet No. 3.

3-OH-e.11 – Does the ODNR Approve the Submerged Lands Lease?

The ODNR considers the following in deciding whether or not to approve the Submerged Lands Lease:

  1. Whether the project prejudices the littoral rights of any owner of land fronting on Lake Erie without permission of that owner;
  2. Whether the project conforms to the permitted uses as regulated by the local government, where applicable;
  3. Whether public uses such as navigation, water commerce, and fishing in the affected area would be destroyed or greatly impaired;
  4. Whether the diminution of the area of original use would be small compared to the use of the entire area;
  5. Whether the area has a history of use including, but not limited to, services rendered to the general public.

O.A.C. § 1501-6-03(C).

The ODNR must notify the developer within thirty (30) days of receipt of a complete application whether it approves or denies the Application. O.A.C. § 1501-6-24. The ODNR’s recommendations to the Governor as to whether to approve the Application must be based upon an evaluation of whether the development, improvement, or activity is consistent with the policies of Ohio’s coastal management program (see O.R.C. § 1506.02) and does not otherwise contravene the general public’s interest in Lake Erie submerged lands, waters, or resources. O.A.C. § 1501-6-03(A).

If the ODNR approves the Application, the Director determines the rental rate for the lease. O.R.C. § 1506.11(C). The annual rental rate is based on the square footage of area occupied by the structure and the proposed use of the structure. Coastal Guidance Sheet No. 3. Submerged Lands Lease terms are at the discretion of the Director, O.R.C. § 1506.11(C), however most are typically valid for fifty (50) years and can be renewed for an additional fifty (50) years, O.A.C. § 1501-6-05(B); Coastal Guidance Sheet No. 3.

If the ODNR denies the application, it must notify the developer of the reason for the denial and of the developer’s appeal rights under O.R.C. § 1506.08.

3-OH-e.12 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

If the ODNR denies the developer’s Submerged Lands Lease Application, the developer may appeal the decision in accordance with O.R.C. §§ 119.01 et seq., Administrative Procedure within thirty (30) days of the denial. O.A.C. § 1501-6-24(B); O.R.C. § 1506.08.

3-OH-e.13 to 3-OH-e.16 – Draft Submerged Lands Lease

Once approved, the ODNR sends a Draft Submerged Lands Lease (“Draft Lease”) to the developer. The developer must sign the Draft Lease and return it to the ODNR, along with the first lease payment. Once received, the ODNR forwards the Draft Lease to the Governor for a signature. Coastal Guidance Sheet No. 3.

3-OH-e.17 – Submerged Lands Lease

The ODNR sends the executed Submerged Lands Lease to the developer. The final Submerged Lands Lease is a binding property transaction and the developer should record the lease at the county recorder’s office. Coastal Guidance Sheet No. 3.

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Contact Information

Edit Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Ohio Coastal Management Program Federal Consistency Administrator (419) 609-4104