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Melinda Lucka Kelley

Melinda Lucka Kelley

North Charleston, South Carolina

Of Counsel, since 2010

Melinda A Lucka

Melinda Kelley has been a member of the South Carolina Bar since 1992. Originally from Tampa, Florida, Ms. Kelley has lived in South Carolina since 1974. After graduating from the University of South Carolina in 1979, Ms. Kelley worked in the field of municipal and county planning in the public and private sectors, until going to Law School in 1987 (Cumberland School of Law and the University of South Carolina School of Law). While in Law School, Ms. Kelley worked as an expert witness in planning and zoning cases in state and federal courts, and served as a judicial extern with Alabama State Supreme Court Justice Richard "Red" Jones and an intern with attorney Doug Coretti, Coretti & Newsome, PA. Upon completion of law school, she began practicing law in Charleston, primarily in the administrative areas of land use law, environmental law, real property law, municipal/local government law, and in the area of Wills, Estates, and Probate.

Ms. Kelley represents individual and business landowners, homeowners and property owners associations, and local government entities in administrative hearings and appeals brought before local Commissions, Boards, and Councils, and cases in the Administrative Law Courts, Circuit Courts, and the Appellate Courts in South Carolina. She has served as municipal attorney for the Town of Lincolnville, S.C. since 2003, was past planning director and attorney for the Town James Island, (1993-1996), was a prosecuting attorney for misdemeanor criminal cases for the City of Charleston (1997-2016).

Ms. Kelley is a member of the adjunct faculty at the College of Charleston, having taught Land Use Law and Water Use Law in the Urban Studies Program since 1994. She was appointed as Program Director for Urban Studies in 2018, and directs the Practicum/Internship Program for Urban Studies majors. She has been a course instructor for the South Carolina Bar, Lorman Educational Services, the South Carolina Bar, SCDHEC, The Seminar Group, the National Business Institute, and the SC Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Ms. Kelley has written/co-written local government Zoning Ordinances, and has contributed to the drafting and preparation of Comprehensive Plans. She is an approved instructor, pursuant to S.C. Code 6-29-1310 et seq., through the S.C. State Advisory Committee on Educational Requirements for Local Government Planning and Zoning Officials and Employees and the Municipal Association of South Carolina for the continuing education instruction of local government planning and zoning officials and employees in South Carolina, and has served as Chair and Vice Chair of the Wadmalaw Island Land Planning Committee.

Prior to joining Finkel Law Firm LLC in 2010, Ms. Kelley practiced law with C.C. "Cotton" Harness, III from 2006-2010, was "of counsel" in the Charleston office of Austin & Rogers, P.A., and in private practice in Charleston from 1992-2006.

Areas of Practice:

  • Land Use Law
  • Local Government Law
  • Zoning variances, rezoning requests, and appeals of zoning decisions
  • Pre-litigation Mediations for Zoning Appeals
  • Land subdivision and development disputes
  • Easement and right-of-way issues
  • Homeowner Association zoning disputes
  • Coastal and wetlands issues
  • Preservation and environmental protection of land
  • Boundary disputes
  • Inverse condemnations/takings
  • Wills, Estates, and Probate
  • Has Qualified and served as Expert Witness in Planning, Zoning, and Land Use Law
  • Canon and Ecclesiastical law

Bar Admissions:

  • South Carolina, 1992


  • JD: Cumberland School of Law/University of South Carolina 1990
  • BA: University of South Carolina 1979 Urban Studies/Geography and Comparative Religion/Philosophy

Classes/Seminars Taught:

  • Land Use Law, Water Use Law. College of Charleston Adjunct Faculty/Urban Studies: 1994 - Present
  • Land Use Law Update, S.C. Municipal Attorneys CLE: 1996
  • Health care issues in South Carolina, S.C. Patient Advocates Association: 2002
  • Planning and Zoning Law Update and Advanced Planning and Zoning, Lorman Educational Services: 2001 – 2007
  • Issues in SC Planning and Zoning, National Business Institute: 2011
  • Cases and Statutory Updates in Planning and Zoning, SC Bar: 2012
  • Continuing Education for various Local Government Zoning Boards: 2017-2023
  • Laws and History of Wetland Regulations in South Carolina, SCDHEC: 2021
  • Legal update: Local Government Procedural Consistency with the South Carolina Comprehensive Planning Act, SC Chapter American Planning Association: 2021
  • Land Use Law – Planning for Growth and Sustainability in Suburban Areas/Rural Preservation/Tools that Encourage-Discourage Growth, The Seminar Group: 2022

Professional Associations and Memberships:

  • South Carolina Bar
  • Charleston County Bar Association
  • South Carolina Municipal Attorneys Association
  • South Carolina Chapter-American Planning Association Executive Committee (SCAPA)
  • American Planning Association-Land Use Law division
  • Past member -South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Seminar Committee
  • Ecclesiastical Law Society
  • Past Chair of the Harmony Project Board of Directors, a non-profit organization emphasizing neighborhood revitalization and sustainability.
  • Past member of the Charleston Promise Neighborhood Working Group

Ancillary Website:

Practice Area:

Land Use and Local Government Law

Our firm handles administrative and regulatory matters related to municipal and county annexation, zoning, planning, and permitting issues, including zoning variances, rezonings, subdivision regulation issues, and related development and development preservation matters. Melinda Lucka Kelley, 'of Counsel' with the firm, has had over 30 years experience representing individual, corporate/LLC landowners, HOA's, and local governments that have such issues that come before Zoning Boards, Planning Commissions, and City and County Councils, along with appeals and related litigation resulting from Board and Council decisions. Ms. Kelley also handles Title 6-29 Pre-litigation Dediation for zoning appeals and expert witness work on land use cases in state and federal courts.

Serving The People And Businesses Of South Carolina For Over Fifty Years.

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