- University of Georgia School of Law, J.D.
- Auburn University, B.S.
Bar and Court Admissions
- Alabama State Bar
- The Florida Bar
- The State Bar of Georgia
- United States District Court, Middle District of Florida
- United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia
- United States District Court, Southern District of Georgia
John assists clients in the areas of environmental law, real estate and land use and zoning law, with an emphasis on litigation. He helps individuals, developers and public entities in all aspects of environmental due diligence, permitting and entitlement.
John also assists clients in navigating the complex web of state and federal environmental statutes and regulations, including counseling clients on compliance with the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Rivers and Harbors Act. Additionally, John is also knowledgeable in brownfield redevelopment projects and obtaining tax incentives under the Florida Brownfields Program.
John’s litigation practice includes the defense of alleged Section 404 violations in federal court; the defense of CWA citizen suits for alleged violations of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits; and administrative litigation before the Division of Administrative Hearings over entitlement to environmental resource permits (ERP), coastal construction control line (CCCL) permits and state land authorizations. He has extensive experience representing both residential and commercial waterfront property owners in disputes concerning riparian rights.
John has litigated claims arising under the Bert J. Harris, Jr. Private Property Rights Act, unconstitutional exactions claims under the decisions in Nollan, Dolan, and Koontz, and comprehensive plan consistency challenges under section 163.3215, Florida Statutes.
Prior to joining Smith Hulsey & Busey, John practiced with two other Jacksonville law firms and served as an Assistant State Attorney in the Fourth Judicial Circuit, where he tried numerous jury trials.
John has strong relationships within the agencies before which he appears. John works with these agencies to address concerns with his clients’ projects in a manner that accomplishes his clients’ goals while avoiding costly litigation.
John is a Jacksonville native and is active in numerous environmental and real estate organizations across Florida.
Editor, American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Law: The Year in Review 2020
Defended coastal Florida city in Citizen Suit filed in Federal Court by environmental interest groups under the Clean Water Act. The suit alleged continuing violations of the Clean Water Act relating to sewage discharges into an aquatic preserve, and requested injunctive relief, an award of fines calculated on a per day basis, and an award of attorney’s fees and costs, which collectively exposed the city to a potential judgment that would have cost in excess of $20,000,000.00. The suit was settled favorably, allowing the city to avoid costly fines and attorney’s fees, and to direct their corrective actions.
Represented Florida county in action alleging multiple claims stemming from the denial of a PUD rezoning which would have authorized construction of nearly 1000 single family homes, in addition to retail and commercial development. The suit, which included a comprehensive plan consistency challenge, a claim under the Bert. J. Harris, Jr. Private Property Rights Protection Act, and a claim of unconstitutional exactions, requested an award of more than $10 million in damages. The suit was dismissed with prejudice two weeks before trial, with no award against the county and with the plaintiffs agreeing to pay costs incurred by the county in defending the suit.
Represented the owner of major commercial marina in Palm Beach County, Florida in litigation before the Division of Administrative Hearings when a neighboring, competitor marina challenged the client’s entitlement to an ERP and state land authorization for expansion of the marina. After a three day final hearing, the Administrative Law Judge recommended, and the DEP entered, a Final Order authorizing the client’s marina expansion without modification.
Represented Florida city in litigation before the Division of Administrative Hearings over the city’s entitlement to a stormwater permit issued by the St. Johns River Water Management District, which authorized construction of a stormwater management system associated with a roadway expansion. After Final Hearing, the petitioners dismissed the challenge, resulting in issuance of the stormwater permit without modification.
Represented the developer of a $250 million high rise condominium in enforcement proceedings brought in Federal Court by the U.S. Department of Justice, which alleged fill of wetlands without federal authorization, in violation of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The suit was ultimately resolved through entry of a Consent Decree, in which the Department of Justice and the United States Army Corps of Engineers agreed to the issuance of an after-the-fact permit for fill of the impacted wetlands.
Best Lawyers in America
- Administrative / Regulatory Law
- Land Use and Zoning Law
- Environmental Law
- 2023 "Lawyer of the Year" in Environmental Law
Florida Super Lawyers
- Land Use/Zoning
- Real Estate
- Administrative Law
- Civil Litigation
Florida Trend, Legal Elite
- Environmental and Land Use Law
Jacksonville Bar Association
- Co-Chair of the Environmental and Real Property Law Committee, 2020 - present
St. Augustine American Inn of Court
- Barrister, 2018 – 2021
- Class of 2018
Jacksonville Bar Association Young Lawyers Section
- Board of Governors, 2015 – 2018
The Chester Bedell American Inn of Court
- Barrister, 2014 – 2017
- American Water Resources Association, 2016 – present
- Northeast Florida Builders Association, 2016 – present
- Urban Land Institute, 2016 – present
The Horizon Board of Dreams Come True
- Treasurer, 2014 – 2015
- Board Member, 2013 – 2015
- The Alumni Board of the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, 2009 – 2015