McDaniel presents seminar on land use and zoning law

Burnette Shutt & McDaniel co-founder Kathleen McDaniel recently updated South Carolina lawyers on developments in land-use law during continuing legal education seminars in Charleston and Columbia.

Her talk included a discussion of recent zoning cases, a roadmap for navigating land-use approvals, and a review of ethical and legal issues affecting those who serve on zoning boards, planning commissions, and similar bodies.

An experienced attorney and skilled litigator whose practice includes environmental and government law, McDaniel has seen zoning and land use issues from many sides. She’s represented clients in neighborhood zoning disputes and businesses seeking approvals for projects. As a former member of the Richland County Planning Commission, McDaniel is aware of the careful balancing of rights that goes into many land-use and zoning decisions.

McDaniel’s discussion of cases during the recent CLE included the long-running dispute between the Taboo adult bookstore and the City of Columbia. Recently, the South Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that a change in the zoning ordinance prevented Taboo from continuing to operate at its Devine Street location. The legal battle between Taboo’s owner and the city has been going on since shortly after the business opened in 2011. Read the ruling here:

She then talked about a Lowcountry case in which the Court of Appeals agreed that a church couldn’t build a fellowship hall within a zoning district meant to protect the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort. That matter is on appeal to the South Carolina Supreme Court, and the decision could have ramifications for developers of building projects constructed in phases.  Read the ruling here:

Land-use approvals

McDaniel also provided a roadmap for navigating land-use approvals at the city and county levels. She focused on obtaining variances and special exceptions, getting approval for subdivisions, and protecting vested rights to develop a piece of property. She talked about the conditions on land use imposed by the Clean Water Act, CERCLA, and the Endangered Species Act.

Finally, McDaniel reviewed ethical issues for members of Boards of Zoning Appeals, Planning Commissions, and Design/Development Review Commissions. She reminded the attorneys that members of such bodies are public officials bound by laws such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). They must avoid conflicts of interest, dual office holding, and ex parte communications with parties appearing before them.

A board member who runs afoul of the law in any of those areas risks causing the whole board’s decision to be invalidated, she warned.

The program, entitled “Practical Guide to Zoning and Land Use Law,” was sponsored by the National Business Institute. The organization presents continuing legal education seminars across the country. McDaniel regularly presents CLE programs for NBI in South Carolina.