Maryland Zoning and Land Use Attorneys
National and regional developers, property owners, and investors choose Lerch Early, the region’s largest land use and zoning practice serving Maryland and DC, for counsel on planning and developing successful projects in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties and surrounding jurisdictions. We help clients obtain approvals by using strategic thinking and creating consensus among key stakeholders.
Leading legal directory Chambers USA notes Lerch Early has a “market-leading presence in zoning and land use work.” Clients describe our land use attorneys as “Beyond expectations! They have creativity and collaborative elements that provide for the best possible outcome.” We work closely with government staff and officials as well as community leaders to achieve these results.
Understanding Zoning Laws in Maryland
Our attorneys are advisors with an entrepreneurial spirit, focused on identifying the best path to completion and taking care of the milestones and minutiae along the way. We know how to keep projects moving in a timely manner through the complex labyrinth of the planning, entitlements, permitting, and construction process. Our clients include an array of developers, institutions, and national retailers like EYA, Federal Realty Investment Trust, The JBG Cos., Lerner Enterprises, Trammell Crow, MedImmune, United Therapeutics, Washington Adventist Hospital, Home Depot, Starbucks, and TD Bank, to name a few.
Potential Issues with Zoning and Land Use
We represent our clients before local, state, regional and federal administrative agencies in a broad range of issues involving land development, procurement and purchasing matters, zoning and other related administrative land use reviews, eminent domain and condemnation, regulatory takings, environmental compliance, historic preservation, and building codes.
How Our Land Use and Zoning Attorneys Can Help
Our land use and zoning attorneys can help with a variety of issues that you may encounter.
Property owners dissatisfied with an agency’s decision in a land use-related matter, or who have obtained a favorable land use-related decision that is challenged by an opposing party, engage Lerch Early’s land use team to determine their next steps. Our attorneys are well-versed in the nuances of appeals to reviewing agencies (such as a board of appeals) and/or to courts.
After obtaining approval of the necessary entitlements for a project, clients continue to rely on Lerch Early land use attorneys to help them navigate the myriad of “post-approval” agreements, conditions and permits required before construction can commence.
Property owners, developers, and retailers pursuing certain uses of their property must first obtain Conditional Use approval (referred to as a special exception in certain jurisdictions). A Conditional Use is a pre-identified use that is permitted in a given zone only upon satisfaction of specified conditions set forth in the Zoning Ordinance.
Due Diligence Analysis
Lerch Early land use attorneys perform due diligence analyses for clients interested in property in Montgomery County, Howard County, Prince Georges County, Anne Arundel County, and the municipalities of Rockville and Gaithersburg.
Eminent Domain and Condemnation
Property owners whose private property is being taken by eminent domain (also known as condemnation) turn to Lerch Early for assistance in minimizing condemnation impacts and receiving fair compensation. Since 1965, our attorneys have helped individuals, businesses, and organizations receive compensation far in excess of what the condemning organization first offered. In the last several years, we have achieved settlements in excess of $30 million for our clients.
Land development and construction projects often intersect with environmental laws and regulations such as forest conservation, sediment control, and stormwater management. In fact, most projects begin with a Natural Resources Inventory/Forest Stand Delineation Plan (NRI/FSD), a plan showing existing environmental features on the property.
Owners and developers turn to Lerch Early for assistance in navigating the complexities of the county and state historic preservation laws, historic area work permits, and local, state, and federal historic preservation tax credits. As Montgomery County and its buildings age, so do proposed designations of properties as historic.
Many of Lerch Early’s land use attorneys are registered lobbyists at the local and state levels. Our lobbying activities include representing clients on master and sector plan proceedings, zoning text amendments, and pending legislation that predominantly affects the development industry.
Local jurisdictions are continuously updating area master plans as they plan for the future of a community and the properties that comprise that community. Lerch Early attorneys have been involved in all aspects of every master plan in Montgomery County and have also worked on master plans in Rockville, Gaithersburg, and Prince George’s County.
One of the most important services provided by Lerch Early land use attorneys is handling rezonings for properties, whether residential, commercial, industrial or a mix of uses. This rezoning work includes comprehensive rezonings for an entire area under a Master Plan update, as well as individual rezonings, known as Local Map Amendments for individual properties.
Site and Sketch Plan Approvals
Each of the jurisdictions within which Lerch Early attorneys practice requires certain types of developments to undergo comprehensive review via a site plan application examined by the jurisdiction’s planning board and its staff. In some instances, this application must also be preceded by a concept or sketch plan application.
Often a development project may require parcels to be subdivided or assembled, triggering an extensive review of the project by relevant government agencies through a subdivision application, which includes an analysis of adequate public facilities — primary traffic and school capacity.
Water and Sewer Approvals
The government’s review of a proposed development project requires a finding of adequate water and sewer capacity before the project can proceed. Lerch Early land use attorneys have successfully helped clients obtain water/sewer authorization approval.
Zoning Text Amendments
Lerch Early land use attorneys regularly assist clients in the legislative process by drafting, obtaining legislative sponsorship, and lobbying for the enactment of amendments to laws affecting the development process. Often, these efforts are directed at amending the zoning ordinance.
Our Pro-Bono Land Use and Zoning Work
For more than 40 years, attorneys from our land use group have volunteered at, provided pro bono work for, donated to, and have held leadership positions in the county and local chambers of commerce, arts and culture organizations, and nonprofits. We live and work in this community, and are committed to contributing to its future.
Consult with One of Our Experienced Maryland Zoning & Land Use Attorneys
With offices in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, Lerch Early serves our clients wherever they do business in Maryland. Whether it’s navigating the approval process, working with planning boards, zoning reviews, or solving your business’s unique challenge, our land use and zoning attorneys have the experience and knowledge to deliver the desired results. Contact us today to get started.