Commercial Property Owners: Be Aware of Potential Environmental Liability

As government regulators have enacted increasingly stringent environmental regulations, commercial real estate owners are finding themselves vulnerable to greater environmental liability and related financial loss. It is important that business owners take a proactive approach to risk analysis and risk control when it comes to environmental concerns.

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Proposed Clean Water Act Expansion Could Affect Construction in Chatham County

A new rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) would expand their jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act and, if implemented, could add additional time and cost to new construction projects in Chatham County.

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The Intersection Between Urban Agriculture and Form-Based Zoning: A Return to Traditional Planning Techniques

By Joshua S. Yellin, published in the West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law and Policy 19, no. 1 (Winter 2013).

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Consider Environmental Risks in Real Estate Transactions

By Ron D. Talley, published on April 6, 2011, in Business in Savannah.

The transfer of land in the United States is based primarily on legal principles that have remained the same for many years. When analyzing risks in real estate deals, people acquiring land have always known that there were market risks and economic risks associated with their particular use of real property.

Although those risks and the laws of transferring title to real estate have not changed much, other obligations and liabilities associated with land ownership have changed in modern times largely in response to societal and public concerns. In fact, modern laws regulating environmental conditions have had a dramatic effect on real estate transactions in the United States.

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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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The Reformulated Gasoline Case: International Trade’s Impact on U.S. Environmental Policy

By Francesca Macchiaverna, published in the Summer 1998 issue of the South Carolina Environmental Law Journal.

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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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