Category: Areas of Practice

This is quite different from typical legal work. The developer interested in minimizing environmental impacts and maximizing chances of success will seek to learn early, before paying the purchase price, whether to purchase property, on what terms, for what purposes, and needing what federal, state, and local zoning, subdivision, and environmental permits. It is one thing for land development to meet the bare minimum requirements.

It is something else to utilize interdisciplinary, comprehensive planning, take into account the "carrying capacity" of the land, anticipate future changes in land use and environmental controls, and construct on time and under budget.

In other words, it is critical to examine the environmental feasibility of a project at the same time as decisions are being made on economic and engineering feasibility before permanent legal obligations are cast in concrete.

Developers of land and operators of industrial and commercial facilities should understand their duties, liabilities, and exposure under environmental law. They should anticipate the approvals required, the consultants needed, and the issues raised by their proposals, in order to minimize environmental, financial, and legal risks. Parties in negotiations should take care in drafting real estate agreements such as options, purchase and sale agreements, leases, easements, licenses, covenants, restrictions, mortgages, assignments, partnerships, wills, and trusts. Buyers, sellers, and lenders need superior representation at closings.

Project sponsors of course are free to adopt the old style "file-an-application-and-see-what-happens", but the successful developer today uses a sophisticated approach to environmental permitting in response to the rise of modem regulatory agencies administering important, complex laws which determine whether and on what terms projects will gain approval.

The rapidly changing regulatory climate requires close familiarity and constant monitoring of legal developments. The successful project is one which satisfies these emerging concerns of regulatory agencies and the public. This is not the typical approach where the project is conceived in a corporate board-room, planned in the abstract, and then assigned to an engineer to "make it fit". Instead, the successful approach envisions site selection, project concept, and specific design flowing from environmental constraints posed by the natural landscape and the commercial activities under consideration.