Tina M. Ekblad is the Firm's Director of Planning. She is a certified planner with over 15 years of experience in the private and public sectors. Her practice is diverse, having worked on projects ranging from lot creation to large-scale planned developments and mining facilities. Tina provides clients with strategic guidance to efficiently navigate through a broad range of growth management, permitting and planning issues. Tina is highly skilled in leveraging complex, unique property conditions and locations while maintaining and enhancing the public interest to secure entitlements. She has a particular proficiency for interlinking public natural resources and private property to establish distinct communities and non-residential development. Her relationships with agency staff help facilitate contentious discussions with community organizations to easily resolve complex land use and zoning matters. Tina also regularly provides expert witness testimony to various advisory boards and elected officials across the state. Prior to joining the Firm, Tina spent over 10 years with a Florida consulting firm where she served in several roles including as Director of Planning and as President. During her tenure, she provided a wide range of planning services for several transformative projects throughout Southwest Florida and managed strategic operations for the firm’s Northwest Florida presence. Tina was also a planner for the Town of Fort Myers Beach, the Village of Wellington, and a prominent civil engineering firm in Southwest Florida.
Areas of Concentration
- Affordable Housing Programs and Development Strategies
- Coastal Planning/Development Strategies
- Compatibility Analysis
- Comprehensive Planning/Land Development Regulations
- Development Agreements
- Development Feasibility/Impact Analysis
- Developments of Regional Impact
- Environmental Planning/Permitting
- Impact Fee/Mobility Fee Agreements
- Land Use Need/Urban Sprawl Evaluation
- Limerock Mining Planning/Permitting
- Multi-modal Planning
- New Towns/Urban Villages/Mixed-use Development/Sustainability
- Redevelopment/Historic Preservation
- Resort Planning/Entertainment Districts
- Sector Plans/Special Area Plans/Neighborhood Master Plans
- Special Use Planning (Campus Master Plans/Airports/Ports/Marinas)
- Limerock Mining, Lee County, Florida. Developed and justified entitlement applications for the only new Mine Excavation Planned Development in the County. Secured an amendment to an existing Industrial Planned Development to permit limerock extraction at a fill dirt mine. Prepared application strategies, negotiated with county staff and public opposition and provided testimony at all public hearings. Supported litigation efforts as an expert witness to demonstrate requests are consistent with Florida Statute and County Regulations.
- Quail Run, Walton County, Florida. A Planned Unit Development Overlay for 80,000 square feet of commercial and 386 residential dwelling units. Site location is within an area of the County facing increasing development demand and adjacent to existing conservation lands. Established application strategy in collaboration with project team to promote a site design with enhanced wetland preservation to increase permittable density. Justified multiple deviations to code requirements to promote flexible design strategies to increase wetland preservation.
- Bay Harbour, Lee County, Florida. Established multiple strategies to permit residential density and commercial square footage on an existing industrial property over the project’s 6 year timeline. Developed program for extensive deviations from the county’s development regulations to justify redevelopment of the property. Negotiated multiple project redesigns to address public input, Hearing Examiner recommendations and Commissioner decisions.
- Entitlement Strategies and Conceptual Site Planning, Walton County, Florida. Develop strategies to establish desired residential density and commercial intensity for multiple properties in north-central Walton County. Collaborated with civil engineer and landscape architect to address utility needs and scheduled capacity improvements as well as additional residential density for wetland preservation. Guided property owners through application process for land use changes, planned unit development overlays, and major development orders. Discussed political environment, past policy directions, anticipated community involvement and expected completion timelines
- Margaritaville Resort, Fort Myers Beach, Florida. Negotiated community opposition, multiple redesigns, conflicts in Town of Fort Myers Beach’s land development code, and mid-hearing concessions to secure unanimous approval for a 254-room resort hotel and commercial pool amenity along the beachfront. Developed strategy and justifications for requests for increased height, building frontage and open first floor (due to V-Zone) development. Developed all presentations to community organizations, Planning Board and Town Council.
- Mixed Use Project, Lee County, Florida. Developed text amendment to Lee County’s comprehensive plan and companion planned development to establish a 1,600 residential subdivision and 350,000 square foot commercial center. Site location is within two future land use categories and planning communities as well as proximity to airport runway, which includes environmentally sensitive habitat within a protected watershed.
- Commercial/Industrial Subdivision, Santa Rosa County, Florida. Prepared due diligence comparing existing approved development and identifying benefits of a planned development. Supported major development order application, collaborated with county staff and economic development office, and strategized potential solutions to utility capacity concerns.
- The Sanctuary, Bay County, FL. Secured unanimous approval for planned unit development for a 388-unit residential subdivision within coastal high hazard area and sensitive natural habitat.
- Environmental Preservation Overlays, Lee County, FL. Developed a performance-based overlay within the County’s Comprehensive Plan to promote regional restoration of environmental resources in exchange for increased density. Enabled redevelopment of former limerock mines and agricultural operations. Authored text amendment to initial Overlay to promote bonus density for flood mitigation and commercial square footage. For all projects, negotiated requested amendments with County Staff, developed policy strategy, and represented property owner at all meetings and hearings. Secured approvals for 5,820 acres to establish 4,200 units, 140,000 SF of commercial and preserve 2,871 acres; representing three projects successfully spearheaded to increase development potential within the environmental preservation overlay.
- Gasparilla Inn, Lee County, FL. Provided all land use planning services and expert testimony since 2010 for the Historic Inn and Beach Club. Services include assistance with administrative interpretation to memorialize all historical permits, permits and approvals for the renovation and expansion of the Beach Club on the last remaining large parcel of Boca Grande Island. Developed amendments to the land development code to facilitate Gulf-front improvements as related to Coastal Construction Control Line.
Professional & Community Involvement
- Leadership Florida, 2015-Present
- Regional Council Member, 2021
- State Board Member, 2018
- Council Chair, 2016-2018
- Connect 5 Class, 2014-2015
- American Planning Association (APA), 2006-Present
- Women in Planning Division, Mentor, 2021-Present
- Emerald Coast Section, Professional Development Officer, 2020-Present
- Promised Lands Section, Legislative Affairs Officer, 2020-Present
- Urban Land Institute (ULI), Southwest Florida Chapter, 2015-Present
- Management Committee, 2021
- Florida Gulf Coast University
- Alumni Board, 2021-Present
- Ekblad Scholarship, 2021
- Emerald Coast Theatre Co.
- Volunteer, 2021-Present
- Annual Sponsor, 2020-Present
- Tiger Bay Club of Southwest Florida, 2011-2021
- Vice President, 2017-Present
- Membership Director, 2012-Present
- Florida Planning & Zoning Association, 2011-2021
- Co-Chair, 2011-2021
- Lee County, Conservation Land Acquisition & Stewardship Advisory Committee, 2017-2020
- Lee Building Industry Association
- Gulfcoast Medical Center & Campus Expansion, Gasparilla Inn Beach Club Expansion & Renovation, 2021
- Margaritaville, Our Lady of Mercy, 2020
- Special Projects: Wetland Amendments, 2020
- Gulfshore Business, 40 Under 40 Award, 2018
Publications & Presentations
Finding Mid-Career Mentors
APA Florida Planning Conference|September 2022
How we Succeed
APA Florida Planning Conference|September 2022
Best Practices and Update on Land Use Litigation
2022 Land Use Seminar|May 2022
Contract to Construction
Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association|October 2021
Litigation in a Post-COVID World
American Planning Association Florida Chapter Annual Conference|September 2021
Litigation Skills: What Your Lawyer Wants You to Know
American Planning Association Florida Chapter Annual Conference|September 2019
I Bought Property! Now What?
Southwest Florida CCIM|March 2017
Evolution of Land Use Planning and Transportation
Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE)|April 2012
Stearns Weaver Miller Expands Tallahassee Office Space and Offered Services
Tina Ekblad Joins Stearns Weaver Miller as Director of Planning