Maribel Nicholson-Choice's practice focuses on various aspects of environmental, real estate, and financial institution representations, and governmental affairs. Maribel had more than 20 years of experience negotiating and resolving complex environmental regulatory, permitting, and litigation matters.
Maribel's practice consists of environmental matters for financial institutions. She advises lending clients on environmental liability including permitting and remediation projects associated with collateral property subject to foreclosure proceedings. She advises clients on environmental aspects in real estate transactions, commercial foreclosure proceedings, bankruptcy cases, environmental investigations, remediation projects, brownfields development, and evaluating risks and costs associated with potential environmental cleanup and third-party liability. She also counsels clients on regulatory and permitting technical aspects of complex contamination remediation projects. Maribel's experience also includes negotiating settlement of all types of environmental violations with federal, state and municipal governmental agencies.
Maribel is AV Preeminent® rated, Martindale-Hubbell's highest available rating of legal ability and ethics.
Areas of Concentration
· Environmental law
- Environmental counsel to Chapter 11 debtors in bankruptcy
- Environmental counsel to lenders financing and foreclosing on real property
- Due diligence and consultation regarding disposition and acquisition of distressed real property located throughout the United States and in U.S. Territories
- Waste regulation
- Cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated real property
- Submerged lands and coastal regulation
- Water resources
- Due diligence and consultation regarding regulatory compliance
· Environmental litigation
· Land development
· Governmental and administrative law
Professional & Community Involvement
· Chair, Tallahassee-Leon Planning Commission
· Member, American Bar Association
· Member, Tallahassee Environmental Advisory Board
· Former Member, The Florida Chamber of Commerce Committee on Natural Resources and Growth Management
· Former Chair, Florida Bar's Environmental and Land Use Law Section (2002-2003)
· Former Chair, Florida Chambers' Subcommittee on Brownfields and Environmental Justice
Awards & Recognition
· Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law, 2010-2014
· Recipient, The Florida Bar Environmental and Land Use Law Section's "Judy Florence Memorial Outstanding Service Award"
· Rated, AV Preeminent® 5.0 out of 5
· A financial institution client sought to foreclose on collateral property and Maribel negotiated with a Consent Decree and settlement of federal and state environmental liability, fines, and penalties under the Clean Water Act. Maribel also counseled the client following foreclosure of the property in connection with resolving numerous environmental permit violations and avoiding significant fines and penalties subject to enforcement by various state and local regulatory agencies.
· Financial institution client sought to foreclose on collateral property containing contamination from underground storage tanks and Maribel negotiated with the state regulatory agency to assess the nature and extent of petroleum contamination and remediation under the States' petroleum cleanup program. Maribel also counseled the clients following foreclosure of the property and obtained State cleanup funding for a portion of the contamination and she obtained a No Further Action Letter so that the client can resell the property. Maribel avoided enforcement action and significant fines and penalties associated with the debtor's environmental violation.
· Financial institution client sought to foreclose on collateral property containing NPDES stormwater violations and significant adverse impacts to wetlands associated with debtor's development of a golf course. Maribel performed environmental due diligence prior to foreclosure. Maribel counseled the client following foreclosure of the property and negotiated with the state regulatory agency to mitigate for wetland impacts and to resolve stormwater violations under the Clean Water Act. Maribel avoided enforcement action against the client as well as any fines and penalties.
· Represented emergent clean technology companies before the Florida Legislature and the Executive Office of the Governor.
· Led in passage of statutory language contained in a comprehensive growth management legislation to renew and extend for two years certain permits issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and water management districts, as well as build-out dates for certain developments of regional impact.
· Provided environmental due diligence consultation to lender financing multimillion-dollar acquisition of gas stations located throughout the Southeast United States.
· Provided environmental and land use due diligence consultation, including environmental permit transfers, terminations and new permit applications, for 14 plastic manufacturing facilities located throughout the United States.
· Provided international cruise ship line with environmental permitting and policy services for marina expansion project located in South America.
· Defended speaker plant siting decisions against environmental justice claims.
· Oversaw environmental remediation and redevelopment of a former city coal gasification plant to a city park.
· Led in drafting and establishment of the Broward County Brownfields Program.
· Led in negotiating and resolving a number of cases under the Florida Department of Environmental Protection cleanup programs such as the Brownfields, dry cleaner and petroleum cleanup programs.
· Represented $620M private equity fund in purchase of contaminated properties for cleanup and redevelopment into substantial mixed-use commercial development and livable downtown centers, i.e., student housing, hotel/restaurant and other integrated mixed-uses including neighborhood/historic buildings.
· Negotiated state lands leases, state submerged lands disclaimers and private claims in submerged lands in conjunction with development of docking facilities serving luxury condominiums projects.
· Primary participant in adoption of Florida's Unified Building Code.
· Primary participant in adoption and subsequent amendments to the Florida Brownfields Redevelopment Act.
· General Counsel to Blueprint 2000 Intergovernmental Agency which was formed by the City of Tallahassee and Leon County to utilize millions of dollars in penny sales tax revenues for infrastructure (i.e., road and drainage) improvement projects in City and County.
· Represented ConocoPhillips in class action law suits arising from Superfund Site.
· Member, Governor Crist's Energy Supply and Demand Technical Work Group, 2008-2009
· Current Chair, Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Commission, 2003-Present
· Former Vice-Chair, Florida Environmental Regulation Commission, 1995-2001
· Former Member, Florida Environmental Equity and Justice Study Commission, 1994-1995
· In 1998, lobbied the Florida Legislature for state funding to establish the Center for Environmental Equity and Justice at FAMU's Environmental Science Institute.
· In 1994, lobbied the Florida Legislature for state funding to establish the Environmental Science Institute at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University to help increase the number of minorities entering into the environmental law profession.
· Assistant City Attorney, City Tallahassee
Publications & Presentations
Articles, Lectures & Publications
· Quoted, "Stimulus-Related Initiatives have Contractors Hopeful for New Jobs," South Florida Business Journal, July 31, 2009
· Author, "Advanced Strategies for Structuring, Engineering, and Closing Brownfields Projects," Florida Chamber's 2009 Environmental Permitting Summer School III & JJJ, July 2009
· Author, "Florida Legislature Adopts Two-Year Extension of Certain Development Approvals and Environmental Permits," GT Alert, May 2009
· Author, "Advanced Strategies for Structuring, Engineering, and Closing Brownfields Projects," Florida Chamber's 2008 Environmental Permitting Summer School DDD & EEE 1&2, 2008
· Author, "The Many Faces of Environmental Justice," The Florida Bar Journal, Vol. LXXIV, No. 5, May 2000
· Author, "Brownie Points: Helpful Hints for Developing Brownfields in Florida," The American Bar Association's Key Environmental Issues in U.S. EPA Region IV Manual, November 1998
· Author, "Environmental Equity and Justice Update," The Florida Chamber's Environmental Network, Monthly Newsletter, May 11, 1998
· Author, "Environmental Issues Affecting Land Use: A Public and Private Perspective," The Florida Bar Land Use Law Update Manual, February 1998
· Author, "Air of Equality: An Analysis of Florida's Environmental Equity and Justice Act," The Florida Bar Journal, Vol. LXVIII, No. 9, October 1994
· Author, The Florida Chamber's Environmental Network: 1993 Environmental Legislation
· Author, Legislative Hotline: Florida Chamber of Commerce Weekly Newsletter, 1991 Legislative session
· Author, CRS Report for Congress: Criminal Provisions in Federal Environmental Statutes: A Compilation, October 5, 1989
Maribel lectures extensively on environmental law issues at programs sponsored by The Florida Bar, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and other organizations.