Extensive Federal and State Specific Experience
Many of the brownfield redevelopment opportunities available to developers fall within the purview of state programs, and those sites remediated under federal law are still subject to a number of state laws. While we have worked across the country on brownfield sites on a federal and state level, we have notable experience in a number of states including Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Long before brownfields became a hot topic, McGuireWoods was involved in the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated sites using the existing regulatory programs and creative private contracting mechanisms. We have also been instrumental in developing state remedial standards based on actual site risks, and in implementing these in government orders and remediation programs. In recent years, we have used developer-friendly state voluntary remediation programs and EPA brownfields initiatives to assist our clients in developing contaminated sites across the country.
We use our combined land use and environmental experience to assist in adapting the remedial approach to the most favorable development plan for a contaminated site, including extensive experience in sustainable development. We also assist our clients in balancing the present benefit of institutional and land use controls in saving development dollars with the long-term impact of such development restrictions.
We also bring long experience in real estate and environmental transactions by identifying and resolving the liability risks for owners, tenants, contractors and lenders. Although a government agency may issue a letter stating that no further remedial action is required, contamination may remain that could result in substantial disposal costs when excavated, or even present liability for a current or future owner. We understand these development issues and can help clients avoid pitfalls. Our experience includes all aspects of the negotiation of risk allocation for liability for contamination. We have used environmental insurance in many instances as a mechanism for addressing lingering risks.
Financing Remediation and Redevelopment
We bring the ability to seek unique financial resources to support development of brownfields. We work with clients to evaluate the numerous state and federal grants, loans and tax incentives to finance brownfields investigation and remediation. In addition, our experience in municipal finance allows us to work with municipalities and other local entities to use standard development financing tools, including tax-increment financing, special service areas, and special-use districts to redevelop brownfields sites, either as stand-alone projects or as part of larger redevelopment initiatives. In addition, our financial services practice allows us to draw on years of experience in addressing the concerns of lenders regarding environmental risks.
Environmental Aspects of Transactions
Environmental issues have become one of the major components in business and real estate transactions. Whether the concern is the assumption of past liability in the purchase of stock of a company or the mechanics of remediation after closing a real estate transaction, our environmental team has significant depth in these matters and other complex issues. We not only assist in identifying the issues, but we also guide clients in resolving them in a manner that protects our clients and allows realization of the ultimate goal of closing the transaction.
We represent sellers, purchasers, landlords, tenants and lenders in all aspects of due diligence and addressing liability issues. Our lawyers focus on providing value via environmental experience, as well as a thorough understanding of business and real estate transactions.
Sustainable, Responsible Development
McGuireWoods is involved in all aspects of civil practice, with particular strength in environmental and natural resources law, real estate law, and land use law and planning. Our environmental lawyers have cultivated a detailed knowledge of responsible and sustainable approaches to development and have accumulated extensive experience throughout the United States and overseas in developing and implementing environmental solutions.
We have dealt with issues regarding the use of graywater, recycling and energy efficiency, as well as solar access and wildlife protection. Over the years, we have helped clients deal with social issues such as affordable housing, schools and jobs, all while building an extensive library of resources on responsible solutions to environmental and social problems.
Because our environmental lawyers are highly experienced in all areas of environmental and land use permitting, our clients have access to detailed, expert guidance in air, water source, water discharge, solid waste disposal, wetlands, historic resources, and endangered-species permitting. Decades of land use experience are also available to clients who seek assistance in zoning, subdivision, variance and other forms of land use permitting.
Our environmental team members have developed special depth in ‘scoping’ the requisite permits and identifying critical path items. We use this skill to assist in the initial feasibility analysis necessary for purchasing and financing projects and undertaking new projects in the United States and overseas. Building upon the initial feasibility analysis, we provide project management assistance on critical path analyses, budget and time frame analyses and permit tracking.
We are experienced at working efficiently with client engineers to obtain all necessary permits and can assist in managing permitting complexities through use of sophisticated tracking tools.
Land Use Compliance Issues
We work closely with local governments to resolve disputes over zoning, subdivision and other land use controls, pursue waivers and variances where appropriate, and litigate land use disputes on behalf of clients. We also work with clients to analyze land use legislation, develop strategies on legislative issues and implement such strategies through participation in the state and federal legislative process. Business clients frequently ask us to conduct environmental audits of industrial facilities and land use audits of retail and commercial facilities. This service is particularly common in connection with mergers and acquisitions. We also assist clients in assessing and responding to the results of due diligence audits. We suggest and negotiate provisions in contracts, purchase agreements, loan agreements, leases and other documents that assign future environmental risk and cleanup responsibilities. We advise clients on issues related to radon, indoor air quality, electro-magnetic fields, lead paint and pipes, asbestos and underground storage tanks.
We have been involved in many aspects of sustainable and energy efficient development. We serve as national counsel for Greening America, a Washington, D.C.-based, organization that focuses on sustainability. We are also national counsel for the Congress for New Urbanism, an organization that focuses on the design of new communities in an effort to reduce automobile dependence, improve the quality of life and reduce sprawl. McGuireWoods has also been helping build towns, as well as large and small-scale communities for decades.
We have assisted in all aspects of new development, beginning with project management in the early, critical stages of development planning, and continuing through permit scoping, permitting, designing community documents, dealing with investors, lenders and purchasers and managing the many issues which arise before buildout.
We are equally experienced in dealing with infill development issues, such as property contamination and infrastructure modification. The firm employs several land use planners to provide technical and conceptual guidance and support to clients.
The environmental group assists start-up companies in the environmental and sustainability fields. With decades of experience from the startup of now nationally known companies, our lawyers can help new nonprofit and for-profit businesses get on their feet and focused on their missions. We have been “start-up” counsel for several national and statewide nonprofit corporations. We also represent startups in the photovoltaic and sustainability consulting business.