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George C.D. Duke

Partner

Overview

George Duke focuses his practice on helping businesses navigate complex environmental and land use laws and regulations pertaining to corporate and real property transactions, land development, permitting, and mine reclamation and expansion projects. In particular, he has extensive experience shepherding the redevelopment of brownfield redevelopment sites. George regularly assists business clients in matters of site acquisition and due diligence, construction and related project development agreements, project financing, and tax mitigation and development incentives.

George handles environmental enforcement actions pertaining to wetlands, petroleum and chemical bulk storage facilities, and various commercial and industrial facilities. His experience as a project manager and hydrogeologist for a national environmental consulting firm allows him to understand the basis for environmental legal determinations and solve client problems.

Before joining the firm, George was the founding partner of a New York law firm specializing in environmental and land use development and litigation. Prior to that, he practiced with environmental law firms in New York City and New Jersey, where he counseled clients on numerous brownfield redevelopment projects and commercial transactions involving environmentally distressed properties. Previously, George was an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the New York City Law Department’s World Trade Center Unit, representing the City of New York in toxic tort claims arising from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He also litigated environmental claims for the City Law Department’s Environmental Division.

During law school, George gained valuable experience in the Office of Regional Counsel, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 2, and the U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Defense Section. He also participated in Pace Law School’s Environmental Litigation Clinic where he represented citizen groups in environmental and land use matters.

George has published articles on the development of Liquified Natural Gas in New York State, brownfield redevelopment and site remediation. He is a frequent lecturer on environmental topics, including site remediation, Brownfield redevelopment, the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund), the Build Act, Opportunity Zones, and professional responsibility in environmental law. He currently serves on the Board of the New York City Brownfield Partnership and is as an active participant on several professional committees and organizations.

In addition to his participation in legal associations, George assisted in the founding of the Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa), in Hoboken, New Jersey, where he previously sat on HoLa’s Board of Trustees as its Vice President and legal chair.

Experience

Representative Experience

  • Land use and environmental counsel to soil contractor regarding the development of a Class B Recycling Facility in New Jersey. Representation includes negotiation of ACOs with the NJDEP, negotiation of remediation settlement agreements, and securing land use approvals.
  • Land use, environmental, and public benefit counsel to regional developer and coordinated environmental approvals pursuant to SEQRA, special use permit and site plan approval for development of 561,000 square foot warehouse project in Sullivan County, New York.
  • Land use, environmental, transactional and public benefit counsel to regional developer and coordinated environmental approvals pursuant to SEQRA, special use permit and site plan approval for development of 50,000 (expandable to 100,000) square foot warehouse project in Sullivan County, New York.
  • Environmental and land use counsel for regional contractor and developer in its environmental restoration, remediation and redevelopment of a former permitted mine and inactive hazardous waste site in Long Island, New York. Project includes solid waste facility permitting under Part 360 of the New York State Solid Waste Regulations.
  • Environmental counsel to one of the Metropolitan New York area’s largest wholesale food distributors involving its 2.7 MW solar installation as well as remediation and redevelopment activities under the New York State Brownfield Program.
  • Represent one of the largest gasoline station owners in the United States in the sale and redevelopment of a former gas station site in Brooklyn, New York to be remediated and redeveloped under the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program.
  • Environmental and land use counsel to assist a regional recycler in the remediation and permitting of a facility in Northern New Jersey for the to be used as a Class B recycling facility.
  • Environmental counsel to a large-scale developer for the 2.2 million+ square foot mixed use development, with 27 percent of the planned 1,723 apartments for low- and middle-income households, in Astoria, New York, for participation in the New York State Brownfield Redevelopment Program. This transformative project is anticipated to change the landscape of the community.
  • Land use and environmental counsel to a gaming developer who successfully won its bid to be the first and only Casino Resort Project approved in the Catskill/Hudson Valley Region – a $980 million project with a realistic going-forward investment in excess of $1.1 billion – advising on environmental review, negotiating water and sewer agreements, prosecuting various federal and state wetlands permits, amending local laws to enable a comprehensive master planned destination resort zoning district and obtaining various local land use approvals and entitlements.
  • Land use and environmental counsel for the redevelopment of a renowned golf course in Sullivan County, New York. Representation includes SEQRA compliance, obtaining site plan approvals, obtaining state and federal wetlands approvals to enable redevelopment, and obtaining local financial benefits for the project (sales and use tax exemption, PILOT agreement, etc.) under the County of Sullivan Industrial Development Agency’s uniform tax exempt policy.
  • Represent New York City developer as environmental counsel in the redevelopment of a full city block in Flushing, New York into a mixed used high rise development under the New York State Brownfield Redevelopment Program.
  • Represented one of the largest independent liquid petroleum products pipeline companies in its application to obtain the necessary land use approvals for an above ground petroleum storage facility in the City of Linden, New Jersey.
  • Participated as environmental counsel on the remediation, closure, and redevelopment of landfills in the New Jersey Meadowlands.
  • Negotiated a global consent order with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to resolve petroleum bulk storage violations at multiple facilities throughout New York State for a major mining company.
  • Represented a major Niagara County power producer in its negotiations with the County Industrial Development Agency to secure and maintain financial benefits under the County’s uniform tax exemption policy.
  • Counsel to a major gaming developer in the negotiation and drafting of a PILOT (and related agreements), securing significant financial incentives to ensure financing of the project while guaranteeing a steady revenue stream to local municipalities to enhance essential community services.
  • Applied for and obtained tax exemptions, on behalf of a REIT, for several properties within its 300-plus property portfolio that it refinanced during its $2.5 billion merger with another national REIT.
  • Environmental counsel to a major regional mall and retail property developer on a New York State Brownfields redevelopment project in Queens, New York, involving both on and off-site chlorinated solvent contamination in soil, groundwater and soil vapor.
  • Environmental counsel to commercial tenant on property undergoing active remediation of chlorinated solvent contamination pursuant to CERCLA (Federal Superfund) in Long Island, New York.
  • Environmental counsel to commercial developer on a New York State Brownfields redevelopment project in Brooklyn, New York involving chlorinated solvent contamination from a commercial dying and dry cleaning facility securing both liability protection and significant tax credits.

Activities

Professional and Community Affiliations

  • New York City Brownfield Partnership, Member of the Board of Directors and Co-Chair, Pro Bono Committee
  • Trustee, Vice President, The Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa)
  • New York State Bar Association
    • Co-Chair, Environmental Law Section Task Force on Licensed State Professionals
  • New Jersey Bar Association
  • Association of the Bar of the City of New York
  • New Jersey School Boards Association – Member of ad hoc Charter School Committee

Additional Professional  Experience

  • Licensed Professional Geologist, Pennsylvania

News & Insights

Practice Areas

Education

Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University (J.D., 2002)

Montclair State University (M.S., Geology/Hydrogeology, 1997)

Franklin & Marshall College (B.A., Geology, 1993)

Admissions

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