THE PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION OF A DREAM
One of the most often difficult aspects of owning property is understanding just what it is that you can do with that property. Options in this regard may be driven by a number of different oversight entities, including Federal, State or Local Government laws or regulations, such as zoning or architectural restrictions, and even further limited by private agreement such as homeowners associations, easements, covenants, licenses, lot line adjustments and similar legal restrictions. (For a more thorough discussion on many of these issues, please go to our “Real Estate” section by clicking here.)
At Scafide Law, we advise our clients on a diverse set of issues, ranging from minor home improvements to assisting them in full-scale development projects, from the earliest stages of property acquisition, through the final stages of permit condition compliance. Along the way, there are a number of agencies, organizations, and political thickets that may hinder even the simplest project, such as expanding an existing deck on a single family home, but also may range into more comprehensive projects that require permits such as a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), or even lot legalization.
The scope of our representation is determined by the nature of the entitlements associated with a given parcel. This is driven in large part by an evaluation of the permit requirements for a specific development concept(s); identification of environmental review requirements (if applicable); review of the itemized findings that the reviewing authority must make to approve the project(s); and, any factors that have the potential to prevent the decision-maker from being able to adopt the findings and/or grant the required approvals (e.g. significant environmental impacts triggered by a component of the project, probability of organized neighborhood opposition, political disposition of the decision makers). Early identification of these factors allows our clients to fully understand the entitlement risk associated with different development concepts they may have for a property, or with various components of a single development concept.
Where land owners want to go beyond their entitlements and seek discretionary entitlements, such as CUPs, our governmental experience makes us uniquely qualified to navigate these often difficult waters. We have first-hand experience with all critical aspects of the discretionary entitlement process, and we understand it from both a government and private-sector perspective. In preparation for, and throughout the discretionary entitlement process, clients benefit from our depth of experience with environmental regulation, zoning, and land-use policy implementation.
Zoning violations often become an issue for property owners following a public complaint filed with a regulatory agency, or, to a lesser extent, when staff directly identify a violation during the course of inspecting an adjacent property. In some jurisdictions, all properties are subject to a zoning inspection as part of any sale transaction. Unresolved violations may lead to enforcement actions (which can include fines) and/or prevent a real estate transaction from closing. Therefore, it is essential to identify and implement feasible remedies for any known zoning violations as soon as possible.
At Scafide Law, our professionals assist clients with the abatement of any zoning violations identified on their property. Our permitting/entitlement expertise and development experience allow us to identify practical, efficient solutions and obtain required approvals. Sometimes, abatement of violations involves a more complex process, such as retroactively obtaining discretionary entitlements. When these situations arise, we identify the available permit path and, in consultation with our clients, file applications within short time-windows, which often results in the suspension of any pending enforcement action. Scafide Law can then manage the entitlement process and obtain the approvals needed to permanently resolve the violation.
At Scafide Law Firm, we’re here to help others achieve their dreams. It’s what we do. It’s what makes us different.