Maribel N. Nicholson-Choice

Maribel N. Nicholson-Choice

Shareholder

With 20+ years of experience negotiating and resolving complex environmental regulatory, permitting, and litigation matters, Maribel Nichoson-Choice advises lending institutions on environmental liability, including permitting and remediation projects associated with collateral property subject to foreclosure proceedings. She counsels regulated clients on complex litigation matters. Her practice includes counseling and litigation 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, as well as on regulatory and permitting technical aspects of complex contamination remediation projects.

Additional experience includes negotiating settlement of all types of complex environmental violations with federal, state and municipal governmental agencies. Maribel’s key clients include property owners, Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, banks and local governments.

Concentrations

  • Environmental law
    • Complex environmental litigation
    • 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
  • Land development
  • Energy
  • Governmental and administrative law
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Capabilities

Experience

  • Negotiated a Consent Decree and settlement of federal and state environmental liability, fines, and penalties under the Clean Water Act on behalf a financial institution seeking to foreclose on collateral property. Following foreclosure, she also helped the client resolve numerous environmental permit violations and avoid significant fines and penalties.
  • Negotiated with the state regulatory agency to assess the nature and extent of petroleum contamination and remediation under Florida’s petroleum cleanup program on behalf of a financial institution seeking to foreclose on collateral property contaminated from underground gas storage tanks. Following the property foreclosure, obtained state cleanup funding for a portion of the contamination and a No Further Action Letter enabling the client to resell the property.
  • Performed environmental due diligence for client seeking to foreclose on collateral property containing NPDES stormwater violations and significant adverse impacts to wetlands associated with debtor's development of a golf course. Also negotiated with the state regulatory agency to mitigate for wetland impacts and to resolve stormwater violations under the Clean Water Act, while helping the client to avoid enforcement action and any related fines and penalties.
  • Provided environmental due diligence consultation to a lender financing a 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.
  • 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.
  • Oversaw environmental remediation and redevelopment of a former city coal-gasification plant to a city park.
  • Represented ConocoPhillips in class action lawsuits arising from Superfund Site.
  • Negotiated state lands leases, state submerged lands disclaimers and private claims in submerged lands in conjunction with the development of docking facilities serving luxury condominiums projects.
  • 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.
  • Represented emergent clean technology companies before the Florida Legislature and the Executive Office of the Governor.
  • Led 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.
  • Led in drafting and establishment of the Broward County Brownfields Program.
  • Primary participant in adoption of Florida's Unified Building Code.
  • Primary participant in adoption and subsequent amendments to the Florida Brownfields Redevelopment Act.
  • Served as General Counsel to Blueprint 2000 Intergovernmental Agency, 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.
  • Assistant City Attorney, City Tallahassee
  • 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.

Recognition & Leadership

  • Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Florida Super Lawyers, 2017
  • Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law, 2010-2017
  • Team Member, U.S. News - Best Lawyers®, Best Law Firms Edition, "Law Firm of the Year," Environmental Law, 2016
  • Team Member, a U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Government Relations Law Firm of the Year," 2014
    • Ranked, Tier 1 – Government Relations, Tallahassee Metropolitan Area
  • 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

AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell DistinguishedSM and Martindale-Hubbell NotableSM are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards and policies.

  • Board Member, Tallahassee Environmental, Advisory Board
  • Chair, Tallahassee-Leon Planning Commission
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • 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

Credentials

Education
  • J.D., University of Miami School of Law, 1990
  • B.S., with distinction, Barry University, 1987
Admissions
  • Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
Languages
  • Spanish