Hey Jon! Sounds like things are going well...shoot me an email so we can catch up!
I shoot a lot without a permit, and am usually very low profile, with one assistant with a reflector. usually, there are no problems. BUT...as you mentioned you like to do it up big, you are right to try and get some permission.
I recommend trying to find some locations that are more permit friendly. For instance, there is a state park in my area that will give me a permit to come shoot for free, provided I provide them with a certificate of insurance, a liability release, and 3 days notice. Maybe there are some places in your area that are more like that???
Also, look into private property. Someone who has a nice big piece of property, might love the idea of a photo shoot at their place. There is an art gallery near me that has a huge, fancy, well landscaped garden...and they let me shoot there for free in the mornings before they open. (provided things don't get to risqué)
Night Clubs are usually cool with letting you shoot for pretty cheap in the off hours, and can have some cool scenery. What about Mom & Pop owned Hotels or Bed & Breakfasts?
Anyway, just some ideas...good luck!
Or...another idea...just come to Florida and shoot at my studio!