Helping You Resolve Complicated Land Use and Zoning Concerns
Our attorneys are ready to assist you in navigating the complex waters of state and local regulations and political environments to get your real property development project approved and completed.
We handle most types of land use and zoning matters, including:
- Zoning and rezoning
- Special exceptions
- Administrative appeals to Board of Zoning Appeals
- Court appeals from Government Action
- Administrative land use hearings
- Adequate public facilities
- Private land use covenants
- Reciprocal easement agreements
- Cell tower leasing
- Liquor licenses
- Residential developments
- Planned unit developments
To discuss your rezoning, easement or boundary dispute issues with one of our lawyers, contact our office online or call 301-790-3600.
Land Use Law FAQ
I want to make improvements to my home. Do I have to worry about zoning restrictions?In most cases, small exterior improvements to your home do not require zoning approval, although they will likely require building permits. However, in the case of structural changes or additions, decks, or buildings, you may need a variance from the zoning restrictions. Before you begin any exterior home improvement projects, you should consult your local planning department and zoning ordinance.
What is a variance?A variance is the approval to improve, construct or use your property without strict compliance with the local zoning regulations. Most jurisdictions only allow dimensional variances, which are used to obtain relief from building setback, and lot size and dimension requirements. A variance typically requires that you make application to the local planning authority and appear at a hearing before a board or agency to present evidence in support of your request. Although less formal than court proceedings, the hearings do require testimony and evidence to be presented, and in some cases there will be opposition to the request. An attorney can help you file your request, prepare your presentation and represent you before the board or agency.
I am dissatisfied with the decision made by the local board or agency. Can I appeal the decision?Yes. Typically, you have thirty (30) days from the date of the board or agency’s decision to file an appeal. In most cases, the appeal will be filed with the local Circuit Court. An appeal does not afford you the ability to present your case again, but it does allow for review of the board or agency’s decision by a judge. Appeals are usually complex and must adhere to specific time and filing requirements set forth by the rules of court. It is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney if you are contemplating an appeal.
I received notice that my neighbor has made a zoning request to the local board or agency. Do I have any say in the request?Yes. When a property owner requests zoning approval, the local planning department will require that notice be given to all neighbors who are potentially affected by the request. You may attend the hearing and testify in favor or in opposition of the request.
I have been approached by a developer who wants to purchase my property. Do I need an attorney?At the very least, you should consult with an attorney. Chances are the developer has attorneys and real estate professionals working on their behalf to help with the project. They represent the developer’s interests, not yours. You should have the benefit of legal advice regarding your rights and obligations relating to the project.