Land use and local government law has evolved dramatically over the last ten years as Florida has struggled to cope with unprecedented growth and heightened environmental concerns. A diminishing of governmental resources during the same time has placed a mounting share of the burden of accommodating growth on the private sector. Thus, the regulatory maze which must be negotiated whenever real estate is developed has become ever more difficult and complex. As anyone who has dealt with Florida’s development of regional impact, comprehensive planning and quasi-judicial zoning procedures will acknowledge, the State’s land use system is complicated.
Macfarlane Ferguson & McMullen’s land use and zoning practice area has several lawyers who regularly represent the interests of both private and governmental entities. They are experienced in all aspects of land use and local government law, including comprehensive planning, developments of regional impact, zoning, development agreements, permitting and other land use issues, as well as the public records law, “sunshine” law and other laws pertaining to state and local governments. In particular, the Firm has experience in securing land use approvals and environmental permits for large-scale developments and in administrative and local governmental practice. The Firm also has extensive experience in ad valorem tax matters and has been involved with a wide variety of large-scale projects, including regional malls, residential developments with thousands of dwelling units, and office and industrial developments which have been authorized to construct millions of square feet. The Firm also represents numerous smaller-scale developers and landowners. The Firm typically represents private landowners and developers seeking the necessary approvals to use their property, and its attorneys are also often called upon to represent local governments on a variety of issues, including growth management proceedings and land use proceedings.
Over the years, the Firm’s attorneys have developed good working relationships with their governmental counterparts. Although they strive to achieve their clients’ goals at the local government level, they have substantial experience in litigating land use and local government decisions, both before administrative tribunals and in the courts, when necessary to protect a client’s interests. They have litigated substantial disputes on behalf of both private parties and governmental entities.
The Firm’s land use and local government attorneys have the experience with and understanding of local government to deal with the complex issues faced by clients.
The department has the ability to handle complex environmental compliance and permitting issues as well as being able to litigate these matters. The department has represented clients in environmental cost recovery actions in federal court and has been involved in extensive environmental insurance coverage issues in both federal and state courts.
The department has knowledge of managing and counseling environmental assessments and cleanups concerning real estate transactions. Department attorneys work closely with landowners, developers, lending institutions and environmental consultants in conducting site assessments, compliance audits and being proactive in the prevention of environmental discharge events and non-compliance at industrial facilities. The department works with lending institutions with respect to avoiding environmental liabilities in connection with loan agreements and assisting clients in matters involving environmental contamination.