duck key

An Information Guide to Duck Key in the Florida Keys



























For residents new to Duck Key or who are unfamiliar with events or have been unable to attend meetings and hearings leading up to the present expansion, a description of the pertinent history from 1986 to the present is provided below -

This summary uses original documents from Duck Key Property Association records and letters describing negotiations by the involved parties around Lake Lucille in 1986.

 In brief, the expansion plan of the Hawk's Cay Resort has gone through three different configurations since 1986:


1. the original 1986 Development of Regional Impact which focused on building conference and tennis garden suites and North and South Harbor suites -

2. a 1995 modification proposal which placed four story condominiums built by Dev Tech Co. along Duck Key Drive and the marina area with 25 luxury suites to be built along Lake Lucille and the canal, and asked for an extension of time,

 3. and the Pritam Singh building plan which calls for two story Conch type houses along Duck Key Drive, the Marina, and Lake Lucille and the nearby canal. This plan also required an extension of time to 2004.



Hawk's Cay has 156 rooms and 22 two bedroom suites on approximately 60 acres of land.



Declaration of Covenants , Conditions and Restrictions filed by Hawk's Cay

With resort expansion on the horizon, Yacht Club Island residents adjacent to the resort and Lake Lucille seek protections from the resort and propose that a number of restrictions be negotiated with Hawk's Cay. Residents around Lake Lucille (Steves, Elges, Lawes, Oldam, Wilson, and others) work toward a resolution. In February of 1986, Hawk's Cay agrees to covenants, conditions and restrictions after negotiating with DKPOA and residents around the Lake Lucille area. This Declaration filed by the resort with the County is binding on all subsequent land holders governed by the "protected" area at Hawk's Cay Resort. With this agreement, the resort's major development project went uncontested. Documents from that period indicate that Duck Key islanders supported the Hawk's Cay expansion plan. In brief the multi-paged Declaration provides that:

 1. Hawk's Cay asserts its desire to protect the quiet enjoyment, high quality and residential integrity of the residential subdivision adjacent to the resort.

 2. Hawk's Cay asserts its desires to develop and maintain its resort property in a manner compatible and beneficial to the high quality of the residential subdivisions adjacent to resort property.

 3. Construction and development will be limited to hotel, resort and residential development including facilities, conference and meeting rooms, swimming pools and other accessory uses appropriate to a resort

 4. A protected area is established which limits the type of development activity and prohibits certain commercial activities. Charter boats, rental boats, recreational day use boats, marina offices, stores, restaurants, bars, public entertainment or other similar commercial activities are prohibited .

 5. Sound levels produced within the protected area shall not exceed those normally acceptable in residential neighborhoods

 6. Live-aboards and houseboats are prohibited at the marina / Lake Lucille site.

 7. Activities between 10:30 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. are not permitted if they interfere with the peace and enjoyment of the residential neighborhood

 8. Restrictions are placed on refuse, discharges, effluent, and boat sewage.

 9. Dockside Rules and Procedures are required regarding conduct and operation of vessels in the marina/Lake Lucille

 10. Fueling limitations are set

 11. mangroves and other plant species are to be protected


Ironically and rather prophetically, Yacht Club residents near Lake Lucille tried but were unsuccessful in obtaining the following in October of 1985:

1. a limitation exclusively to residential use for the land bordering the adjacent community

2. restrictions on building density and height in the area zoned RU-3 Multiple - Family Residential adjacent to community

3. restrictions of density and height in the area zoned RU-4 Townhouse Residential adjacent to the community

4. maintenance of the canal and Lucille seawall so that it would not deteriorate

5. stipulations on anchoring, and mooring on other than waterfront land

6. restrictions on the maximum days of docking per month

7. restrictions on additional boat slips which would require digging or excavation


Of note and particularly bothersome to the group was the Covenant's acknowledgement of the existence of a "marina" and anticipated zoning down the road as a Destination Resort.

 The group did get assurances and a guarantee that Hawk's Cay would prohibit undesirable elements such as restaurants, bars, public entertainment, shops, stores , offices , boat storage, and other commercial uses such as charter boats in the protected area adjoining affected homes. The Yacht Club group was also successful in obtaining prohibitions of auditory and visual nuisances.

While the covenant did not contain all the elements sought by the Yacht Club group, it seems apparent that the Yacht Club group and Duck Key accepted what was negotiated. The group's spokesperson, regretted that " we did not accomplish more. However, without our effort, there would be no promise of a Covenant of any sort."

The Yacht Club group was not opposed to the expansion plan and only wanted protections in the form of a Covenant ,and if the groups spokeman is to be believed, the rest of Duck Key generally viewed the Yacht Club group's concerns about Lake Lucille and the residential community bordering the resort as " just another neighborhood dispute of small consequence. "


December 5, 1986 - Hawk's Cay is granted preliminary approval by Monroe County Zoning Board to expand the resort as a DRI (Development of Regional Impact). Board of County Commissioners grant approval on December 5, 1986; the development order becomes effective January 25, 1987.



Approved Expansion Plan - County approved resorts DRI

Marina Villa Area - Expansion calls for additional conference and commercial space plus an additional 444 units (most one bedroom and some suites) with a total of 564 bedrooms. At the north end of the resort, the Marina Villa area, 86 ( 2 bdrm.) suites were planned. Only twenty-two will be completed.

Duck Key Drive - Ninety-six units along with a restaurant and stores were planned along Duck Key Drive facing Tom's Harbor.

 Yacht Harbor aka Lake Lucille area - Of particular interest to the residential community bordering the resort, the plan called for 60 South Harbor Guest suites around Lake Lucille and 48 luxury guest suites along the Lake and canal adjacent to the residential neighborhood. Between these and the old Administration building 96 Tennis Garden Suites were planned.

Administration Building and the existing tennis courts - Between administration and the tennis courts a 26,000 (sf) Conference Center one level above parking was planned. An additional 60 bedroom wing will also be added to the Inn.



DKPOA Annual Meeting : Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions on the Agenda presented th the member residents


1986 - 1994

Economic conditions play a part in Hawk's Cay only completing 22 two bedroom units in the Marina Villa area during this period. Ten year limit on Hawk's Cay approval to expire in 1996 necessitating the resort asking the Planning Board for an extension and for modifications to meet market demands.


January 1995 - DKPOA Annual Meeting - Don Johnson speaks to residents about resort development at the annual meeting. Initial plan calls for reconfiguration of retail, restaurant and conference facilities and more clustered design for units.

 It is not until November 4th of 1996 that community learns 301 ( 2 Bdrm.) units will be located between Duck Key Drive and Tom's Harbor in a 44 foot, four story flat roof building. Adjacent to Lake Lucille and canal 25 luxury (3 Bdrm.) suites are planned. A total of 114 more bedrooms than the original 1986 plan is proposed.


October, 1995 - Notice Sent To Surrounding Property Owners

Duck Key residents adjacent to resort notified of meeting before Planning Board requesting changes in DRI by HC


November 1, 1995 - Serendipitously, a visit to Planning Board Office raises concerns about condo architecture, increase in numbers of bedrooms from 1986 plan, traffic, sewage treatment, etc.

Newspaper accounts had indicated fewer units to be built than in the 1986 plan , but no mention was made of an increase of 114 additional bedrooms and bathrooms.


November 4, 1995 - All residents invited to meeting held on November 4 at a resident's home. Sixty- six residents attend. Hurriedly, action committees are formed in preparation for November 9 Planning Board meeting.

November 2 and 6 - DKPOA Board of Directors Meet to discuss community concerns

November 8 - Phone calls by DKPOA to membership, one hundred Duck Key residents will attend the Planning Board meeting.

November 9, 1995 - Meeting before Planning Commission for Modification and Extension of Hawk's Cay Expansion. Planning Board staff's report recommends Preliminary Approval with Conditions, but no presentation is made nor action taken because Hawk's Cay asks for the hearing to be deferred in order to meet with the community and address its concerns.

November 17, 1995 - Hawk's Cay meets with community and listens to action group reports and concerns on design , density, jet skis, security, traffic, boat ramp usage, sewage etc. Membership surveyed. Don Johnson states he came to listen and will meet with DKPOA's Board

November - December, 1995 - January, 1996

Meetings - DKPOA Officers and/or Board meets with developers, with Planning Board staff, with Florida Dept of Environmental Protection to address concerns


December 5, 1995

Information packet sent out to membership for review on the development of condominiums at the entrance to Duck Key Drive. Packet indicate how major concerns, i.e., architectural design, density, sewage, traffic, security, jet skis, boat ramp, and landscaping have been addressed to date. . Building redesign and 114 bedroom reduction are among the significant changes presented.


December 1995 - Presidents Message (newsletter )

Community informed of meetings toward resolving issues about architecture, density, sewage, jet skis, boat ramp. etc. New architectural rendering for condominiums included in letter for those unable to attend meetings.


December 12, 1995 - DKPOA and Hawk's Cay - Open Meeting - Duck Key Residents

New architectural rendering along with Memorandum of Understanding

 The understanding arrived at between DKPOA and HCR states:

1. HCR and the developer, Dev Tech Co, plan to construct a maximum of 222 condominium units in 10 buildings of which 7 will be located at the west side of Duck Key Drive, 1 located at the south side of Greenbriar Road and 2 located at the north side of Marina Villas.

2. HCR will construct a maximum 10,000 sq. ft.of retail space at the west side of Duck Key drive.

3. HCR will construct 15,000 sq. ft. of convention space at the resort complex.

4. HCR will build 7,100 sq. ft. of recreation center and pool at the west side of Duck Key Drive.

5. HCR will develop and sell single family lots at Lake Lucille for the development of 25 homes.The maximum height of the buildings will be 2 stories and the design must be approved by Hawk's Cay and reviewed by DKPOA.

6. HCR will reconfigure the roads on resort property.

7. HCR will provide a boat trailer/RV parking area unseen from Duck Key Drive.



1. HCR will provide a long term lease (20 years) renewable for another 20 years at a cost of $1 for 100'X100' at the corner of Duck Key Drive and Greenbriar Rd. for the installation of a "welcome booth". HCR will permit "hookup" of sanitation and electricity at said welcome booth. HCR will provide a road turn around as shown on exhibit 2.

2. HCR will reconfigure the boat ramp to eliminate the use Duck Key Drive as a launch ingress and egress, Exhibit 3.

3. HCR will landscape the east and west side of Duck Key Drive in accordance with general understandings as attached at Exhibit 4. Landscaping will meet or exceed Monroe County standards in effect at permit time.

4. HCR will adopt and enforce, to the best of its ability, the jet ski restrictions as listed in Exhibit 5. 

5. HCR will attempt to obtain approval to install and operate a welcome booth on Duck Key Drive at the main entrance to Sunset Island Villas for the purpose of providing:

a. bridge safety information for pedestrians and motorists

b. traffic information and guidance for visitors and guests to the resort and residences

c. security for Hawk's Cay Resort, Sunset Island Villas and the Duck Key residences.

A pass through lane for public access will be provided. 

DKPOA will assist HCR in this effort if it is determined by DKPOA and the Duck Key Security District Advisory Board that this will significantly improve public safety and the security of the residential islands.

Any financial support from the residential islands for the operation of the welcome booth must be approved by the Duck Key Security Advisory Board under the guidelines established by Monroe County.

6. There will be no boat dockage allowed on the south side of Greenbriar Road or the west side of Duck Key Drive at Sunset Villas.( Tom's Harbor) Two fishing piers as per Exhibit 8 may be constructed near the west end of the Greenbriar Rd. parcel. Piers will be located near the shoreline near Lots 5 and 4 of Block 14 according to the Plat of "Duck Key, Section 1, Part 1, as recorded in PLat Book 5 at page 82.

7. The deteriorating seawall bordering Lake Lucille and the canal area will be repaired within two years of final approval of the development plan.

8. Construction of each building will be completed within 18 months of ground breaking.

9. The Sunset Island building, to be located on the south side of Greenbriar Rd., will consist of no more than 12 units and two floors of height.

Acceptance of these terms and conditions by DKPOA does not constitute its approval of the Hawk's Cay Resort project. DKPOA defers to local, state, and federal agencies on all other matters. Current rules, regulations, laws, policies, and codes are expected to be applied for the protection of the environment, safety of the public and preserve the property values on Duck Key.

NOTE : With this agreement numbers of bedrooms returns to that proposed in the original 1985 proposed DRI.


January 12, 1996 - DKPOA Annual Meeting

New officers elected , additional materials on Hawk's Cay distributed


January 24, 1996 -

Planning Commission unable to consider Hawk's Cay's Application because of another matter before it. Commission sets special hearing date of February 1, 1996 for Hawk's Cay matter. Planning staff's report to Commission recommends denial of the current proposal to modify and extend the expiration date of the approved DRI.

Staff's report notes 2010 Comprehensive Plan policy direction to reduce the amount and number of transient hotel rooms, and problem with the projected reserve capacity and level of service on the Duck Key segment of US1.


February 1, 1996 - Special Meeting of Planning Commission

Planning Board listens to developer's presentation and comments from audience. Six Duck Key residents speak against project. Local businessmen speak in favor. DKPOA asks that the agreement negotiated with Hawk's Cay be made a part of the Resolution if the Planning Board decides in favor of Hawk's Cay request.

 Planning Board decides it will recommend approval of HCR's modifications to the County Commission BUT - will not recommend an extension of time.



DKPOA newsletter informs membership of Planning Board's action in February and gives notice of BOCC meeting on March 20


March 20, 1996

Meeting before County Commission

Meeting canceled at HCR's request.


April, 1996

DKPOA newsletter gives Hawk's Cay update

Pritam Singh to be new developer. In all probability the project will be redesigned.


DKPOA's Summer Newsletter, 1996 - Hawk's Cay Update

Information provided on number , type, and location of units planned by Singh. Reminder as to dates and times for community information meeting and July Planning Board hearing.


July 22, 1996 - Hawk's Cay Development Information Meeting for Duck Key Community

Pritam Singh speaks to Duck Key community about development plans. Unit density will be spread in 3 corridors. Singh will honor previously agreed upon Memorandum of Understanding as it applies to his project. Plans call for 90 to 143 units by Lake Lucille and canal. Singh has agreed to 90 units bordering residential property along Lake Lucille and canal and will leave 1/3 open linear space in that area.


July 24, 1996 - Meeting before Planning Board

Project modifications and extension get Planning Board approval but procedural errors require that the Board reconvene in September.


September 5, 1996 - Meeting before the Planning Board

Project modifications and extension get Planning Board approval


December 1996 - Meeting of County Commission

BOCC approves Hawk's Cay's request for modification of the project and the extension of its vested rights to expand.


May 7, 1997- Planning Board

Board grants a variance to reduce minimum side yard setback.


February, 1998 - Meeting of Planning Board

Singh obtains approval to reconfigure hotel units by moving 5 -10 units to corridor 4 which will include recreational facilities of 2 pools, playing courts, playground, and recreation club. Singh withdraws request to use residential building standards instead of commercial. He also withdraws the item dealing with handicapped access.


February 23, 1998 - Monroe County Commission Hearing

Planning Board approval of Singh modification goes before BOCC for action.


Later at Commission Meetings

Various setback variances issued from twenty feet to ten then seven.


December 11, 2001- Meeting of Planning Board

Hawk's Cay Developer to ask for 28 additional villa units in further expansion. Representative ask that item be continued to another date.

DKPOA takes a position opposing further expansion than that agreed upon in 1995/1996.


December 2001 - Annual Meeting of Duck Key Property Association at Club Duck Key -

All island residents invited to informational part of meeting.County Representation ( Nora Williams) and Resort make a presentation involving plans for sewage piping and waste water treatment for the residential island of Duck Key, Walker Key and Conch Key to be tied in to Resort Expansion and transfer of unused building permits to County. Voting - Community expresses enough interest so that a more complete proposal will be presented at a later date .


February 3, 2002 - Duck Key Property Association Meeting at Club Duck Key

Partial presentation with bullet points of waste water proposal to Community. Voting


February 6, 2002 - Planning Board

Approved by vote of 3 to 2. General understanding is that a later contract and provisions must be satisfactory to community and commissioners


February 12, 2002 - Commissioners' Meeting



January /February 2002 - Concerned Citizens of Duck Key group is formed to contest resort's additional expansion and associated wastewater treatment plant for Duck Key.


For more recent developments see news articles and Concerned Citizen Newsletters in Archives.


NOTE: If you have any additional facts or corrections please bring them to the attention of Duck Key Online.

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386 East Seaview Drive
Duck Key, Florida 33050