Land Use


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.

If you would like to have a free con­sul­ta­tion to dis­cuss your land use plans, click here or go to the “Con­tact Us” tab and set up an appointment.

At Scafide Law Firm, we’re here to help oth­ers achieve their dreams.  It’s what we do.  It’s what makes us different.