Overview

HunterMaclean is at the forefront of commercial development in Savannah, Brunswick, and the coastal Georgia region. Zoning and land use are part of a comprehensive real estate practice that also encompasses economic development, commercial real estate, construction, environmental law, affordable housing, government relations, and commercial finance.

The zoning and land use practice consists of Harold Yellin, Drew Ernst, Joey StrengthJonathan Porter, and Josh Yellin, who work closely with City and County Commissions and review boards to assist clients in moving major development projects from concept to completion. These attorneys carry forward a tradition of experience and success established by their predecessors and colleagues at the Firm, including a Savannah mayor, City aldermen, City attorney, and members of prominent local boards focused on economic development, historic preservation, tourism, and revitalization.

HunterMaclean zoning and land use attorneys regularly appear before local planning and zoning boards, city councils, and county commissions throughout coastal Georgia. Our Savannah attorneys appear before the City of Savannah, Chatham County, Tybee Island, Pooler, Garden City, Bloomingdale, Thunderbolt, Effingham County, and Liberty County. Our Brunswick attorneys appear before Glynn County, Camden County, and the City of Brunswick.

HunterMaclean attorneys handle a variety of related land use issues involving wetland regulations, shore protection act permits, and coastal marshland permits. We provide depth of experience and understanding, along with creativity, in pursuing the best possible outcome for our clients. Given our lawyers’ extensive involvement in the communities we serve and our well-known commitment to responsible development in the region, HunterMaclean is uniquely positioned to serve clients on land use and zoning matters. Our background and proven track record of success are hard to match anywhere in the region.

Experience

  • Representing Savannah College of Art and Design in various zoning and land use matters, including dormitories, museums, and classroom facilities.
  • Representing Telfair Museum in connection with the approval of the height, mass, and design of its Jepson Center.
  • Representing a national waste management company with respect to various zoning and site plan issues related to its metro Savannah facility.
  • Representing several outdoor advertising companies with various land use related issues in the City of Savannah and Chatham County, including the introduction and legislation of ordinances relating to digital advertising.
  • Representing Publix Supermarkets in connection with the rezoning and approval of its site plan for its store on Wilmington Island (Chatham County) and at the Twelve Oaks Shopping Center (City of Savannah).
  • Representing numerous shopping center owners and their operators and managers in acquiring properties, developing the sites, and obtaining all appropriate governmental permits.
  • Representing convenience store and gas station owners with respect to various land use and zoning matters unique to this industry.
  • Representing the owners and developers of industrial tracts and handling various land use, zoning, and infrastructure issues.
  • Representing numerous national and regional hotel, motel, and restaurant operators before the City of Savannah and the Historic Review Board.
  • Representing numerous property owners before the City of Savannah and Chatham County Zoning Boards of Appeal with respect to issues involving riparian rights and marsh setback requirements.
  • Representing Glynn County landowner in rezoning of a 700-acre tract for commercial usage.
  • Representing Glynn County landowner in obtaining approval for a Community Improvement District designation.
  • Representing Golden Isles Association of Realtors in connection with monitoring and analyzing proposed amendments to the Glynn County Zoning Ordinance.

Publications & Presentations

Publications

An Overview of the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC)

The federal New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program was established in 2000 by Congress to spur new or increased investments into operating businesses and real estate projects located in low-income communities. The program attracts investment in low-income communities by allowing individual and corporate investors to receive a tax credit against their federal income tax liability.

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Government Relations: The Intersection of Regulation, Public Policy, and Business

HunterMaclean attorney Harold Yellin explains how government relations lawyers can help navigate clients through complex regulatory, legislative, and public policy concerns.

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New Businesses Pose Questions for Existing Regulations

This article for Business in Savannah discusses the ways in which new businesses can challenge current guidelines and how to the best ways to navigate the process.

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Land Use and Zoning Among Top Civil Disputes

By HunterMaclean Attorneys, published on March 21, 2012, in Business in Savannah.

The City of Savannah recently felt how deeply and personally a land use and real estate development dispute can impact the community.

When citizens objected to the construction of a new mausoleum on privately-owned Forest Lawn Cemetery — a neighbor of historic, city-owned Bonaventure Cemetery — the City of Savannah confronted a complex issue. Local citizens criticized the proposed removal of century-old trees that add to the ambiance at the Bonaventure Cemetery entrance and called for a stop to the planned development of the new mausoleum.

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Zoning Classifications Serve as Important Considerations

By Harold B. Yellin, published on July 6, 2011, in Business in Savannah.

When negotiating contracts for the purchase and sale of real estate, consideration must be given to the zoning classification and the related land use requirements of applicable zoning ordinances.

If you are buying commercial real estate that is raw land, the buyer must research the applicable zoning classification and determine which uses are permitted within the zoning classification. Zoning districts vary considerably from municipality to municipality, so great care should be taken when buying real estate. Do not assume that a particular use will permitted, for example, in a commercial district, just because the same use is permitted in a different municipality’s commercial district.

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Don't Let the Mud Hit the Fan - Wetlands Legislation is Often Overlooked by Business Owners.

By Andrew H. Ernst, published on September 10, 2000, in Savannah Morning News.

We are all aware of the environmental problems associated with the purchase of property that may be contaminated with hazardous substances. However, Savannah business owners often overlook another important environmental issue: wetlands legislation.

Overlooking the Clean Water Act, which regulates the filling of wetlands, among other things, can be a costly mistake. You may acquire property only to discover your plans thwarted or complicated by the Army Corps of Engineers or the Environmental Protection Agency which have recently stepped up enforcement actions with respect to wetlands development.

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Water, Water Everywhere, Better Call the Corps: Section 404 Regulation of Wetlands

By Andrew H. Ernst and Wade W. Herring, II, published on April 4, 1990, in Mercer Law Review 41, no. 34, Rev. 843.

I. WHY CONSIDER WHETHER AN AREA IS A WETLAND?

A real estate developer may acquire property for commercial, residential, agricultural, or industrial use only to discover that the United States Army Corps of Engineers (the “Corps”) or the Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”) can thwart the development plans if they discover “jurisdictional wetlands” on the property. (see end note 1) Section 404 (see end note 2) of the Clean Water Act (see end note 3) (the “CWA”), also known as the Federal Water Pollution Prevention Control Act of 1972, regulates the filling of various wetlands and has become increasingly important and controversial over the last few years as the Corps and EPA have stepped up enforcement actions against unsuspecting developers. Should a developer inadvertently begin work in a wetland without benefit of a permit, or should it intentionally attempt to circumvent the Act, the Corps and EPA have available both administrative and judicial remedies to stop the developer’s work on its project. (see end note 4)

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News

HunterMaclean Recognized by Southern Business & Development as one of Georgia’s Best Economic Development Law Firms

HunterMaclean was recently named one of  Georgia’s Best Economic Development Law Firms in Southern Business & Development’s first annual “Best of Economic Development in Georgia.”

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20 HunterMaclean Attorneys Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2016

HunterMaclean, a leading business law firm with offices in Savannah and Brunswick, is pleased to announce that 20 attorneys from the firm were selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2016.

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Savannah Morning News Business Advocate of the Year: Harold Yellin

Harold Yellin, a commercial real estate and zoning/land use attorney, was named Business Advocate of the Year for 2014. Julia Ritchey interviewed him for a feature article in the Savannah Morning News.

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Georgia CEO: HunterMaclean Marks 135 Years in the Practice of Law

The year 2014 marks the 135th anniversary of HunterMaclean. Lucy Adams from Georgia CEO interviewed Managing Partner Frank Macgill regarding HunterMaclean’s history, areas of expertise, milestone anniversary, and future.

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Savannah Morning News: Broughton Street Property Greenlighted for Demoliton

Demolition plans are a go for 240 W. Broughton Street after the Zoning Board of Appeals voted to overturn a decision by the Historic District Board of Review denying that request. The petitioner, HunterMaclean partner Harold Yellin representing Ben Carter Enterprises, said the historic board had abused its discretion during the May 14 hearing by designating the property historic. The zoning board’s action means the Metropolitan Planning Commission will now issue a COA, certificate of appropriateness, allowing demolition.

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SavannahCEO: City Council Gives Kessler Big Thumbs-Up

Attorney Harold Yellin helped mega-hotel developer Richard C. Kessler get City Council approval for Kessler’s newest building project in Savannah. The process included an amendment to an existing height restriction ordinance that limits the height of new structures in Savannah’s Historic District.

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HunterMaclean Honored in 2014 Edition of U.S. News - Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms”

HunterMaclean recently earned nine First Tier and four Second Tier rankings in the 2014 edition of  U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms.”

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25 HunterMaclean Attorneys Selected for The Best Lawyers in America® 2014

HunterMaclean is pleased to announce that 25 lawyers from the firm were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2014.

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28 HunterMaclean Attorneys Among 'Best'

HunterMaclean, a business law firm with offices in Savannah and Brunswick, has announced that 28 lawyers from the firm were selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2013.

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Mr. Hutchinson Island

On Wednesday July 18, Savannah celebrated the accomplishments of John McCleskey, developer of Hutchinson Island. On hand were HunterMaclean attorneys Brooks Stillwell and Drew Ernst, who were key partners in bringing the Hutchinson Island project to fruition.

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HunterMaclean Partner Harold B. Yellin Named Savannah Music Festival Chairman

The Savannah Music Festival recently named HunterMaclean partner Harold B. Yellin the chairman of the non-profit organization’s board of directors.

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Spotlight

Big Plans: Firm Clears the Way for Westin Resort’s Development

The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa is well-known as one of the most popular and most successful hotels in Savannah, but the hotel, which is located on Hutchinson Island just across the river from Savannah’s National Landmark Historic District, had several major legal hurdles to overcome when it was first conceived in the 1980′s.

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