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Local Government

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Using Our Experience at All Levels of Government

McNair’s counseling of governmental entities is a seamless web of experience and capabilities. Just as we understand how state and local governments work at the administrative and legislative levels, our professional credibility with these decision-makers enhances our ability to counsel counties, municipalities and special purpose entities throughout the state. If you are a county government official in South Carolina, you have likely worked with a McNair lawyer. We have represented at least 25 of the state’s 46 counties, more than half of the 85 school districts, and dozens of municipalities on some issue of importance to them. We not only serve as general counsel to some of these clients – our lawyers often are special counsel on administrative, environmental, financing, immigration, land use and other matters. At the intersection of multiple local government and business interests, McNair lawyers direct the administrative and legal traffic so that public purposes and private needs are integrated for the common good.

Our lawyers advise members of all types of governmental bodies, including municipalities, counties, school districts and special purpose districts, as well as their elected officials and directors, as general and special counsel. Economic development is a particular focus of our practice, and we understand zoning, land use, eminent domain and valuation as they apply to commercial and industrial properties and projects.

We have also drafted local laws and regulations with significant statewide impact, and are well versed in governmental process and procedure. Our clients turn to us daily for guidance on such concerns as open meeting and election laws, referendum petitions, conflicts of interest and civil rights matters. We maintain an active litigation practice representing governmental clients in state and federal courts at both the trial and appellate levels concerning contract, tort, land use, utility and many other disputes.

Example of our Services
An excellent example of McNair’s multifaceted local government counsel is our current role in the construction of a new judicial center, located in a county seat in the northeast part of the state. A large number of real estate parcels had to be assembled for the project and our lawyers handled the title work and eminent domain issues on each. Our financing approach involved the structuring of an entity that creates a lease/purchase arrangement. And we are helping to draft and review all contracts for the project, including those for the architect and the general contractor.

In counseling the governing bodies of more than half of South Carolina’s counties, and many of the state’s municipalities, McNair has served as bond counsel on a wide range of economic development, water, sewer and general obligation financings. We have also advised on financing for all four of the state’s major airports, and have handled tax-exempt financing for more than half of the state’s 85 school districts.

We have been effective at developing incentive vehicles that combine financing from multiple public and private sources. In one major package, we integrated municipal, county and private financing to facilitate the construction of a downtown convention center / hotel development. Other examples include an incentive package that we developed to help two municipalities create a development corridor between them, a public-private partnership formed to create incentives for redeveloping a blighted urban area, and innovative multi-entity incentives for the development of a public-private recreation complex.

Example of our Services
In a firmwide effort, McNair created a joint action agency formed by 10 municipalities in northwest South Carolina to provide wholesale electric service to its members, primarily through 25% ownership of a nuclear power plant. To create the agency we had to draft and secure approval of a special state law, then twice successfully defend the law before the South Carolina Supreme Court.

We prevailed for our client, and served as counsel on its initial $730 million public finance issue that was the largest in state history to that time. Since then, as general counsel, we have continued to assist the agency with several billion dollars in public financings – and have also served as counsel on general obligation bonds and water and sewer bonds for 8 of the 10 participating municipalities.

McNair’s knowledge of and representation of local governments is central to our land use and zoning practice. Zoning regulations ultimately reflect a political process as well as a commercial one, and our lawyers are skilled at advising upon and resolving crucial issues to secure the timely approval of permits and zoning applications.

Example of our Services
Throughout the Carolinas, our relationships with local zoning and planning boards facilitate the approval for a wide range of development projects. Local regulators respect our reputation for honesty and integrity, typified by the fact that our lawyers were instrumental in securing the land use approvals for the original development of both Hilton Head and Kiawah Islands.

In a recent example, we worked with county and municipal officials, as well as the private developer, to do a major new development in a popular coastal resort area. We worked with all parties to facilitate the project, and when challenged, it was upheld by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

As more municipalities and country governments enact legislation regarding the employment of illegal immigrants, we increasingly are advising these public clients on appropriate language for ordinances to ensure that they are constitutionally correct. We also counsel local government clients on dealing with a full range of civil rights issues, from allegations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination. And we advise on compliance with laws that regulate open meetings, campaign finance, conflicts of interest and many other constitutional issues.