Michael Campbell Begins Presidency of Montgomery County Inn of Court


Miller, Miller & Canby’s Michael Campbell has begun a one-year term as President of the Montgomery County Inn of the American Inns of Court.  The American Inns of Court is a national association of lawyers, judges and other legal professionals who share a passion for legal excellence.  The mission of the organization is to “inspire the legal community to advance the rule of law by achieving the highest level of professionalism through example, education and mentoring.”

“I am honored to assume this role for the coming year, and look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and our legal community, furthering the mission of the American Inns of Court,” said Mr. Campbell.

Through monthly meetings, the Inn hosts a dinner followed by a presentation, demonstration or guest speaker. In this collegial environment, outside the courtroom and pressure of daily practice, members discuss legal practice, principals and methods and provide mentorship to new lawyers.  The Montgomery County Inn of Court boasts 136 active members. Its meeting in September will feature Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

Mr. Campbell is a partner in Miller, Miller & Canby’s litigation group, with a practice that is diverse and extensive. He focuses his practice on real estate and construction disputes in state and federal courts in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia and before arbitration panels. He handles cases relating to commercial and residential construction projects, property and lease disputes, property tax appeals, and other commercial matters.

View the firm press release by clicking the Download button below.





25 States Have Supported 5G by Passing Small Cell Legislation to Promote Rapid Deployment of 5G


In May 2019, Nebraska passed its “Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act” becoming the 25th State to pass legislation implementing the 5G and Small Cell deployment.   Thus, half of the Country now has state-wide legislation (versus just municipality or county specific legislation) to facilitate the deployment of 5G small cells.  While Maryland has introduced legislation the past two years on the topic, it has yet to pass a law.  Meanwhile, its neighboring States of Virginia, Delaware and West Virginia are among the 25 States.

These State laws take into consideration the unique circumstances of their State and local environment, but baseline principles can be established and are consistent with wireless industry standards, including:

  • Streamlined applications to access public rights of way

  • Caps on costs and fees

  • Streamlined timelines for the consideration and processing of cell siting applications

The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA and National Conference of State Legislatures) are tracking Mobile 5G and Small Cell 2019 Legislation. Click here to view the current legislation by State.

The telecommunications land use attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby are experienced in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia and are closely monitoring the impacts of the FCC order and the efforts of State and local governments to craft small cell legislation in order to advise telecommunications and property owner clients.

Sean P. Hughes
is an attorney in Miller, Miller & Canby’s Land Use practice group. His career spans more than two decades of focus in legal and wireless telecommunications and he has represented clients in land use and zoning matters throughout the Mid-Atlantic.  To learn more about the firm’s Land Use and Zoning practice, click here.

Cathy Borten
is an attorney in Miller, Miller & Canby’s real estate practice group. She focuses in commercial real estate transactions and leasing, real estate litigation, land use and zoning and commercial financings and settlements. Cathy has over 10 years' experience in leasing, land use and zoning in the wireless telecommunications industry. Cathy also participated in the drafting of the Montgomery County and City of Gaithersburg original small cell ordinances. To learn more about the firm’s Real Estate practice, click here.





Promoting 5G: Two US Senators Re-Introduce Legislation to Streamline Rapid Deployment of Small Cells


On June 3, 2019, U.S. Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) re-introduced the Streamlining the Rapid Evolution and Modernization of Leading-edge Infrastructure Necessary to Enhance Small Cell Deployment Act, or STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act.

The bipartisan legislation updates the Communications Act to better reflect developing technology and facilitate the rapid deployment of 5G networks. It also sets reasonable standards for local government review of infrastructure siting while recognizing the unique challenges for smaller municipalities.

Key Provisions of the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act:

  • Permits must be approved or denied on publicly available criteria that are reasonable, objective and non-discriminatory.

  • Small cell applications may be denied or regulated for objective and reasonable structural engineering standards, safety requirements or aesthetic or concealment requirements.

  • Applications must be acted on no later than 60 days for requests to co-locate equipment and 90 days for other requests.

  • Flexibility and additional time is allowed for small municipalities (fewer than 50,000 residents).

FCC Commissioner, Brendan Carr, released the following statement. “I commend Senator Thune and Senator Schatz for their leadership on smart infrastructure policies.  Their bill demonstrates bipartisan support for fee limits, timelines, and other reforms that are key to accelerating the buildout of 5G infrastructure in communities across the country.  If passed, their work to modernize our country’s approach to small cells would notch another solid win for the U.S. in the race to 5G.”

The telecommunications land use attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby are experienced in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia and are closely monitoring the impacts of the FCC order and the efforts of State and local governments to craft small cell legislation in order to be able to advise telecommunications and landlord clients.

Sean P. Hughes
is an attorney in Miller, Miller & Canby’s Land Use practice group. His career spans more than two decades of focus in legal and wireless telecommunications and he has represented clients in land use and zoning matters throughout the Mid-Atlantic.  To learn more about the firm’s Land Use and Zoning practice, click here.

Cathy Borten
is an attorney in Miller, Miller & Canby’s real estate practice group. She focuses in commercial real estate transactions and leasing, real estate litigation, land use and zoning and commercial financings and settlements. Cathy has over 10 years' experience in leasing, land use and zoning in the wireless telecommunications industry. Cathy also participated in the drafting of the Montgomery County and City of Gaithersburg original small cell ordinances. To learn more about the firm’s Real Estate practice, click here.
 





May 2019 Legal News & Notes


The May 2019 issue of Miller, Miller & Canby's Legal News & Notes quarterly email newsletter announces Litigation Attorney Donna McBride admitted to the American College of Trial Lawyers, five attorneys named DC Super Lawyers, Should Maryland Property Tax Owners Complete Questionnaires, 5G and Small Cell Legislation updates and much more.  Click here to view newsletter.





Maryland Holds the Line on Property Tax Rate; But Buyers Should Consider Total Tax Burden


Recently, the Maryland Board of Public Works voted to keep the state property tax rate at its current level.  The Board is composed of the Governor, Comptroller and State Treasurer.  Governor Larry Hogan, a fiscal conservative, announced that holding the rate was part of his commitment to “prudent capital spending.”  As a result, the state tax rate will remain at 11.2 cents per $100 of assessed value, or 0.112% of total value.  That means a property assessed at $1,000,000 will incur a state tax of $1,120 annually.

While this might suggest good news for Maryland property owners, the state property tax is only a small portion of the overall tax burden on properties.  Each non-exempt property is also subject to county property taxes and, in some jurisdictions, municipal property taxes as well.  For instance, in Montgomery County, a D.C. suburb and the most populated county in the State, the current county tax rate is 0.9927%, which adds another $9,927 in taxes for a $1,000,000 assessment.  Further, a person owning property in Takoma Park, located inside Montgomery County and on the D.C. border, would pay an additional municipal tax of 0.5291.  Consequently, a non-exempt property assessed at $1,000,000 in Takoma Park is subject to a total property tax rate of 1.6338%, equaling $16,338 in annual property taxes.

Other Maryland municipalities that impose a third layer of property taxes include Frederick City (0.73%), Hyattsville (0.63%), and Annapolis (0.54%). When considering the location and timing of purchasing property in the Maryland, buyers should consider the total property taxes imposed annually.  Moreover, if the pre-purchase assessment is lower than the purchase price, the buyer can generally expect the assessment to increase up to the purchase price for the next triennial assessment cycle. The local assessment offices track sales of properties and will pick up the sale price when issuing new assessments.

Miller, Miller & Canby has been challenging the assessments of various types of properties in Maryland for more than 30 years and has obtained substantial reductions in real property assessments for our clients. We have successfully appealed the assessments on office buildings, retail stores, senior living centers, warehouses, industrial sites, casinos, apartment buildings, golf courses and cemeteries. 
Michael Campbell
 is a partner in the litigation group at Miller, Miller & Canby.  In addition to trial and appellate advocacy, his practice focuses on real estate litigation and property tax assessment appeals.  Please feel free to contact Mr. Campbell at 301.762.5212 or send him an email for property tax guidance or to help reduce your commercial Maryland property tax assessment.  For more information about the firm’s Maryland property tax appeals practice and representative cases, click here.





Miller, Miller & Canby Announces Five Attorneys Named as 2019 DC Super Lawyers


Miller, Miller & Canby is pleased to announce our attorneys who have been named to the list of Super Lawyers in the D.C. Metropolitan area for 2019. Attorneys James Thompson, Jody Kline and Donna McBride have been once again selected for this honor, and attorneys Diane Feuerherd and Callie Carnemark have been named to the 2019 Rising Stars list, which recognizes attorneys under the age of 40.

2019 marks the 13th year that James (Jim) Thompson has been named to the list. He has led Miller, Miller & Canby's Litigation Group for more than 25 years, concentrating his practice in eminent domain and real estate valuation litigation, as well as in property tax assessment appeals. For more than a decade, Mr. Thompson represented Maryland in the Owners’ Counsel of America, a national network of property rights attorneys with demonstrated excellence in this area. In 2018, Mr. Thompson was recognized with the President's Citation for Outstanding Service by the Montgomery County Bar Association. He was also selected as the Senior Lawyer of the Year by the Maryland State Bar Association. 

Jody Kline has been a named Super Lawyer for each of the past 12 years, and has led Miller, Miller & Canby’s Land Development and Zoning practice group since 1981. He focuses his practice in land use, zoning and subdivision law and representing clients in many of Montgomery County’s planning and economic development initiatives. In addition to zoning and subdivision law, he represents clients in matters related to master planning, zoning text amendments, conditional use permits, building permit issuance, and other administrative and real estate matters related to land use and development.

Donna McBride has been a named Super Lawyer since 2014, and has been a partner in Miller, Miller & Canby’s Litigation practice since 2009. She focuses her practice in litigation in the following areas:  business and commercial, employment, estates and trusts, personal injury and insurance, as well as real estate. In 2019, Ms. McBride was admitted to the American College of Trial Lawyers as a Fellow. In addition to her background as a trial lawyer, Ms. McBride is a member of the Court of Appeals Standing Committee of Rules of Practice and Procedure, where she was appointed to serve a second 5-year term beginning in 2018. She is also a member of the Trial Court's Judicial Nominating Commission, the Montgomery County Inn of Court, a former co-chair and current member of the Maryland State Bar Association's Judicial Selections Committee and has volunteered as a mediator for the District Court since 2008. In 2018, she was elected to serve as Treasurer for the Montgomery County Bar Association, to serve the 2018-2019 term. 

2019 is the fourth year that attorney Diane Feuerherd has been named to the Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list. She has briefed and successfully argued cases before the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals, including a notable representation of a commercial developer challenging the validity of Montgomery County’s Rain Tax.  Ms. Feuerherd is active in state and local bar associations, including:  the Maryland State Bar Association, where she was named a Fellow of the prestigious Leadership Academy and now serves on the Judicial Appointments Committee; the Bar Association of Montgomery County; and the Montgomery County Inns of Court. In 2016, she was appointed to a social media workgroup for the Judicial Council, which is a policy advisory body to the Maryland Judiciary. She has also worked with the Finding Justice Project, a committee of the Women's Bar Association Foundation, to research and memorialize the history of women lawyers. 

2019 is the first year that attorney Callie Carnemark has been recognized as a Super Lawyers “Rising Star.” An associate in the Litigation group, she focuses her practice on real estate and business litigation as well as the firm’s appellate practice. She is a member of the Montgomery County Inns of Court, the Montgomery County Bar Association, the Maryland State Bar Association and the Montgomery County Women’s Bar Association. She is a graduate of the 2017 Class of the Montgomery County Bar Association Leadership Academy. 

These five attorneys join other Miller, Miller & Canby attorneys previously named Super Lawyers including Joe Suntum, who practices in the field of eminent domain and commercial litigation, and Pat McKeever, whose practice focuses in real estate law.

Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in the nation’s capital through a patented multiphased selection process which involves independent research, as well as peer nomination and review/evaluation. The objective is to create a comprehensive listing of exceptional attorneys to be used as a resource for both referring attorneys and consumers seeking legal counsel. Attorneys are selected from more than 70 practice areas and a variety of firm sizes. The lists are published annually in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers nationwide. In 2019 the DC list will be published in the June issue of Washington Lawyer magazine and The Washington Post Magazine on Sunday, April 21, which reaches more than 800,000 readers.

View the firm press release by clicking the Download button below.





The Daily Record Recognizes Miller, Miller & Canby on Maryland’s Largest Law Firms 2019


Miller, Miller & Canby has been recognized as a Top 50 firm in the The Daily Record’s Maryland’s Largest Law Firms 2019, an annual compilation that ranks law firms in the state by size.  “We are always honored to be included in The Daily Record’s list,” said firm managing shareholder Robert Gough, and added "We take great pride in the fact that we have been doing business in the state of Maryland for more than 70 years.”
 
The Daily Record is a multimedia news source, publishing a print and online edition, and focusing on news in law, business and government. It publishes special products, which include Largest Law Firms and Doing Business in Maryland and also honors leading Marylanders through awards that include  Influential Marylanders and Most Admired CEOs. View article.
 
To learn more about Miller, Miller & Canby’s history in the state of Maryland and practice areas, please visit www.millermillercanby.com.
 





2019 Women’s Bar Association Triennial Auction Raises More Than $80,000


The Triennial Auction of the Women’s Bar Association, held on March 9 at the Silver Spring Civic Center in Maryland, raised more than $80,000 this year. The majority of the proceeds will go to fund the association’s annual undergraduate and law school scholarship programs.   Miller, Miller & Canby was proud to support this year’s event as a table sponsor.  MMC attorney Callie Carnemark was the Auction Committee’s Donations Chair, serving alongside dozens of fellow members of the Montgomery County Bar. “I was honored to work with so many of my peers in support of the educational and community service initiatives of the Women’s Bar Association,” said Ms. Carnemark. “The work of the Association to support female attorneys is critical to our legal community.”

The Women's Bar Association of Maryland (WBA) is a specialty bar association of women and men supporting women in the legal profession and working for equal rights and opportunities for women in the legal profession and the community.  The WBA offers its members opportunities for personal and professional growth, networking and business development, and leadership.
 
Callie Carnemark
is an associate with the Litigation Practice Group at Miller, Miller & Canby. Ms. Carnemark focuses her practice on real estate and business litigation as well as the firm's appellate practice. She can be reached at ccarnemark@mmcanby.com or 301.762.5212.





Should Maryland Commercial Property Owners Complete Tax Questionnaires?


Every year, the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) is tasked with reassessing one-third of all commercial properties in the state.  In the year prior to the reassessment, SDAT is required to obtain income and expense information from the property owner.  The information allows the assessor to determine the value of the property using an income approach.  This approach determines value by taking gross income (e.g., rent, CAM reimbursements and other income), applying a vacancy rate and deducting property-related expenses such as maintenance, repairs, utilities, insurance, professional fees (attorney or accountant) and management fees.  The resulting net operating income (NOI) is then divided by an appropriate capitalization rate to reach a final value.

Types of SDAT Property Questionnaires
There are several different types of questionnaires issued by SDAT, each tailored to the type of property being reassessed.  These include apartments, hotels, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, cemeteries, garages and parking lots, mobile home parks, marinas, golf courses and commercial/industrial properties.  The owner is asked to complete the questionnaire and return it to the local Assessment Office by May 15.  

Are Property Tax Questionnaire Submissions Mandatory?
Property owners often inquire whether the submission of the questionnaire is mandatory, and what happens if the questionnaire is not returned.  The answer depends upon the value of the property.  For income-producing property that has a value in excess of $5,000,000, as listed on the assessment roll, the owner is subject to a statutory penalty for failing to produce the information.  The penalty is $100 per day up to a maximum equal to 0.1% of the value of the property.  For instance, a property assessed at $6,000,000 would be subject to a penalty up to $6,000 for the failure to submit the competed questionnaire.

Despite the statutory mandate, there can be instances where the property owner would rather incur a penalty than submit income and expense information to SDAT.  A classic example is where the property is under-assessed by a large margin and submission of the income information would likely cause a significant increase in the assessment. Conversely, a property owner who is not required to submit a questionnaire might want to do so in certain situations. In this instance, the property may be over-assessed and the income and expense information will educate the assessor and likely lead to a reduction in the assessment.

What Should Owner-Occupied Properties Submit?
For properties that are owner-occupied, there is no stream of rental income to report to SDAT.  In this situation, the owner should return the questionnaire without inserting the income and expense data and simply note: “Owner-Occupied.”  The Assessment Office will then estimate market rent and expenses in order to conduct an income approach to value. Occasionally, an owner will have a “friendly lease” with itself or a closely related entity that holds title to the property.  Since this is not an arms-length lease, the rental income should not be reported on the questionnaire because it is unlikely to reflect fair market rent.

Miller, Miller & Canby has been challenging the assessments of various types of properties in Maryland for more than 30 years and has obtained substantial reductions in real property assessments for our clients. We have successfully appealed the assessments on office buildings, retail stores, senior living centers, warehouses, industrial sites, casinos, apartment buildings, golf courses and cemeteries.  

Michael Campbell
is a partner in the litigation group at Miller, Miller & Canby.  In addition to trial and appellate advocacy, his practice focuses on real estate litigation and property tax assessment appeals.  Please feel free to contact Mr. Campbell at 301.762.5212 or send him an email for property tax guidance or to help reduce your commercial Maryland property tax assessment.  For more information about the firm’s Maryland property tax appeals practice and representative cases, click here.





MM&C Litigation Attorney Joseph Suntum Selected as Board Member of Owners’ Counsel of America


Miller, Miller & Canby litigation attorney, Joseph (Joe) Suntum, was nominated and selected as one of three new Board Members of Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) for 2019.

"I have known all three of these individuals for a long time," says OCA Executive Director Leslie Fields, "and I am confident they will bring a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm to the task of leading this great organization."

Click here
to read the March 6, 2019 press release by The Owners' Counsel of America.

Joe Suntum
is a principal with Miller, Miller & Canby and leads the firm’s Eminent Domain and Condemnation Group. His decades of trial experience and his in-depth knowledge of real property valuation and the law of eminent domain allow him to protect his clients’ property rights and maximize compensation for his clients when their properties are targeted for condemnation. Mr. Suntum speaks regularly on issues pertaining to eminent domain practice. He is the Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) member attorney for the State of Maryland. Membership in the OCA, a national network of experienced condemnation attorneys who represent property owners in federal, state and local condemnation proceedings, is restricted to only one member attorney per state.

U.S. News - Best Lawyers awarded Miller, Miller & Canby a “First-Tier” honor for its Eminent Domain and Condemnation practice. For information about Miller, Miller & Canby’s eminent domain and condemnation practice click here, or contact Mr. Suntum directly at 301.762.5212 or via email.





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