Stephen D. Rees

Senior Counsel | At Icard Merrill Since 1972

T (941) 366-8100

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Florida, 1972

Practice Concentration

Stephen D. Rees is one of Sarasota’s premier land use and real estate development lawyers, having practiced in the Sarasota/Bradenton area for over 30 years. Mr. Rees primarily concentrates his practice in the areas of land use, zoning, planning, and project development. He advises clients in every phase of land use, planning, and development -- from due diligence on real property, property acquisition, and obtaining necessary governmental approvals for its development -- through formation of the condominium or homeowners association and preparation of declaration documents, sale of units in the development, and transition of the association from the developer to the new owners. His breadth of experience gives the firm’s clients a competitive edge in formulating plans and structuring projects that involve complex land use and zoning and development issues.

Mr. Rees' area of practice encompasses many aspects of real estate law, including negotiating, drafting, and enforcing real property purchase contracts, examining title and issuing title insurance, and representing clients in real estate closings. He also advocates the rights of clients in real property litigation and in contested matters of code enforcement and administrative law and appears on a regular basis, before city, county, regional, and state boards, departments, and agencies.

In the area of land use, zoning, planning, and development, Mr. Rees advises clients in matters involving Development of Regional Impact (DRI) preparation and filings, DRI Binding Letters, Florida Quality Development preparation and filings, comprehensive plan amendment preparation and filings, zoning code and regulation interpretations and amendment preparation and filings, rezoning and special exception preparation and filing, environmental permitting preparation and filings, and code enforcement board hearings.


  • University of Florida College of Law (J.D., 1971), Honors
    Member and Editorial Board, University of Florida Law Review
  • Brown University (B.A., Political Science, 1969)

Court Admissions

  • Florida State Courts


Background and Experience

  • Mr. Rees is a recognized authority in many legal matters involving land use, planning, zoning, and development and shares his knowledge and experience with the legal community and the public in a variety of ways.
  • Mr. Rees is actively involved in development issues in the Sarasota/Bradenton area and frequently participates in roundtable discussions and community dialogue with government officials responsible for setting land use policy.
  • Community leaders and government officials often seek Mr. Rees' input on matters such as affordable housing and proposed zoning modifications.
  • Mr. Rees is involved in recommending changes to legislation and local rules affecting land use and zoning and helped set the course of land use development in Sarasota and the surrounding area.

Professional Distinctions

  • Bronze Award, Legal Aid of Manasota (recognized for 20 to 49 hours of pro bono legal services) (2012)

Professional Affiliations

  • The Florida Bar: Member; Environmental and Land Use Law Section
  • American Bar Association: Member
  • Sarasota County Bar Association: Member

Publications and Presentations

  • Mr. Rees has written numerous articles and made many presentations at continuing legal education seminars in his field, including:
    • Conveyances of Sovereign Lands Under the Public Trust Doctrine: When Are They in the Public Interest?, 24 UNIV. FLA. L. REV. 285 (1972)
    • Deep Well Sewage Injection: Future Panacea for Wastes Disposal, 48 Fla. B.J. 5 (1974)
    • Breach of Contract and Sale of Condominium Units, Presenter, 10th Annual Condominium Seminar (1983)
    • Drafting Considerations for Homeowner Association Documents, Presenter, SCBA Real Property Seminar (1994)