Since 1908, Rushing & Guice has provided counsel and legal services to the Gulf Coast business community and throughout Mississippi. The depth of our understanding of this community, and all of its changing players, provides added value to our clients, especially those who are interested in land development. Our skilled lawyers are experienced in commercial, residential, mixed use, urban and historic redevelopment, and industrial projects that encompass all facets of land use and zoning as well as environmental law. We have established relationships with Mississippi and other Gulf State agencies and local administrators – the governmental branches that approve development requests. Although sometimes opaque and admittedly complex, these procedures are necessary for land development that conforms to zoning and environmental regulations.
We guide our clients through the processes of obtaining approvals and permits that are necessary prerequisites to land development. Rushing & Guice’s longevity in the local legal community has enabled us to understand and to know the people responsible for issuing approvals and permits at the state and local levels. We also have relationships with the best consultants, developers, and influential civic and community groups whose input is necessary to get the go-ahead for a new land use project. With the help of these relationships, we can streamline the approval and permit processes even for the most complex development projects.
What is Land Use?
The term “land use” describes the human use of land: economic and cultural activities, such as agricultural, residential, industrial, mining, transportation, institutional, and recreational uses. How we convert the land into built environments is a regulated activity, calling into play zoning and environmental laws, often requiring government approvals and permits. Land use affects the natural habitat, reducing biodiversity, and access to natural resources, such as water, trees, and open spaces. For the health and future of the region, land use is regulated by state laws.
Mississippi Major Land Use Regions
Mississippi has distinctive regions with particular resources, distinctive economies, and regional issues. These are called major land use areas. Each presents its own unique economies and resulting issues.
The Delta: Southern Mississippi Valley Alluvium is still mostly farmland: 55% cropland, 35% woodland, and 7% pasture.
The Southern Coastal Plain remains mostly woodland: 69% woodland, 17% cropland, and 11% pasture. The woodland is 65-75% privately owned with 25-35% industry owned.
Southern Mississippi Valley Silty Uplandsis dedicated mostly to farming with 35% of the area croplands, varying depending on soil quality and topography. 16% of the area is in pasture or hay, and another 46% is in pine and hardwood forests.
Blackland Prairie is another area that remains mostly agricultural with 58% woodland, 26% pastureland, and 14% cropland. Currently, only 2% of the area is used for urban development. Woodlands are 75-80% privately owned, with 20-25% industry owned.
Gulf Coast Marsh, as its name suggests, is mostly marsh vegetation that provides for wildlife habitat. The area is treeless and uninhabited, providing fertile support for marine and aviary life in the Gulf of Mexico. There is some rice production.
Eastern Gulf Coast Flatwoods has virtually no cropland, instead, its forests are game refuges and used for military training. Nine-tenths of the area is forested.
Each of these major land use areas presents specific challenges depending on the economies, soil conditions, and topography: soil erosion, drainage, urban encroachment, livestock runoffs, sustainable foresting.
Mississippi Real Estate Zoning
The purpose of real estate zoning is to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of the residents and to identify and implement growth goals and objectives of localities. Land development requires balancing of interests and some limitation on the use of private property. Zoning is intended to:
Maintain and stabilize land and building values
Reduce the vulnerability of residents and natural resources to storms, flooding, and other natural occurrences
Provide for adequate open space for health, light, air, and fire safety
Manage and reduce traffic congestion
Prevent overcrowding on land and avoid undue population density
Support the provision of transportation, water, sewage, schools, parks, and other public services
Foster compatible land use within the region
Preserve the quality and regional identity of areas
Protect and preserve water resources as well as the tree canopy and other natural resources
Promote a diversified economy
Attorneys for Land Zoning and Regulation
Rushing & Guice offers its real estate clients a full range of land use services, the essential combination of knowledge of the applicable land use and zoning laws and procedures, along with deep relationships with local and state governmental agencies that approve projects and issue permits to proceed. Here is where reputation counts. Rushing & Guice has been practicing law on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for over one hundred years.
Mississippi Environmental Knowledge
Federal and state environmental regulations are intended to protect and preserve the depth and course of streams, plant life, wildlife habitats, animals, soil quality, air quality, water quality, control of hazardous waste, limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and effects on recreational locations. Understanding the intersection of zoning and environmental law is essential to effective representation in land use development. Rushing & Guice has that understanding and is ready to serve the interests of its clients.
The government has the authority to purchase private land for the public good. This is called eminent domain. When exercising its power of eminent domain, the government must pay adequate compensation. The condemnation process and the requisite negotiations on compensation also rely upon a combination of legal expertise and experienced relationships with the government officials involved. Rushing & Guice can serve its clients in these negotiations, and if necessary, file suit to increase the amount of compensation.
Comprehensive Mississippi Land Development Representation
Land development is a complex process that touches upon many aspects of private and public law. In addition to zoning and environmental regulation, development might include access to tax credits and incentives. These opportunities need to be identified and negotiated with state and local officials.
Here is where reputation and knowledge really help our clients. The process of negotiating tax credits and incentives requires a strategic plan that lays out the benefits to the community any development plan might present: jobs and economic impact, increased population, redevelopment of abandoned or underused properties, revitalized tax basis. A cohesive narrative and established relationships with public officials are necessary components to a successful negotiation that results in tax benefits to our developer clients.
Land use representation often involves complex real estate transactions: leasing, purchase or sale, and joint operating agreements. Our lawyers can provide negotiation and drafting services while anticipating the benefits and roadblocks such transactions might incur. Our real estate expertise runs deep.
Current land development requires hiring lawyers with an understanding of zoning and environmental laws, relationships within the business and government communities, and transactional experience. Rushing & Guice is an integrated law firm with lawyers experienced in handling the zoning and environmental aspects of land use, alongside our expert transactional skills. We take our clients through each step of the development process.
Whether new construction or historic redevelopment, the lawyers at Rushing & Guice know how to use our broad knowledge and extensive network to your business advantage.
Rushing & Guice, P.L.L.C: Knowledgeable and Trusted Counsel on All Matters of Zoning and Environmental Laws
At Rushing & Guice, our experienced real estate attorneys stand ready to provide knowledgeable and trusted counsel on all matters that implicate the laws and regulations governing land use, zoning, and environmental preservation and reclamation. Call us at (228) 374-2313 or fill out our online form to arrange for a limited initial consultation. We look forward to hearing from you, and look forward to the opportunity to serve as your attorneys.