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Land Use and Zoning

Land Use and Zoning

Contact: Mark R. Holmes
Contact: David L. York

The use and development of land is often a complicated process, requiring an understanding of regulatory strata imposed by myriad local, state and federal government entities.  From structuring transactions and representing clients before local and state governments, to litigating complex disputes in the trial and appellate courts, Smith Moore Leatherwood attorneys solve land use problems in an aggressive, practical, and proactive manner.

An integral part of Smith Moore Leatherwood's representation is our ability to provide a full spectrum of services and advice relating to real property, rezonings, environmental, and governmental approval matters.  Our team approach provides our clients with unmatched experience in the transactional and litigation aspects of land use regulations.

Smith Moore Leatherwood's Land Use and Zoning Team is staffed with attorneys who focus on real estate, development and construction, environmental law, and municipal and regulatory law.  In addition, our litigators have vast experience with real estate and land use matters, and have represented clients at every level of the development process, from the initial zoning hearing through the state's highest courts.  Most importantly, the transactional lawyers at Smith Moore Leatherwood understand the regulatory and litigation aspects of land use issues and processes.  Likewise, Smith Moore Leatherwood trial attorneys understand and appreciate the business aspects of the projects that give rise to land use disputes.

Smith Moore Leatherwood's Land Use and Zoning Team also assists developers and owners with nuisance actions and represents brokers and agents in disputes arising from home and property sales.

In addition to their particular knowledge of Construction Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Condemnation and Eminent Domain, and Real Estate Litigation, Smith Moore Leatherwood's Land Use and Zoning Team can assist with:

Rezonings, Variances, and Building Permits
Smith Moore Leatherwood attorneys regularly appear before local zoning boards, commissions, councils, boards of adjustment, and other regulatory bodies throughout North Carolina to rezone property and to obtain variances, building approvals and permits.  Our attorneys have represented clients before dozens of local government boards and commissions and, when necessary to protect the rights and interests of our clients, in trial and appellate courts.

Wetlands, Surface Water, Environmental, and OSHA Compliance
Along with Smith Moore Leatherwood's established Environmental Team, members of the Land Use Team work closely with regulatory agencies to resolve watershed and other surface water restrictions, wetland issues, stream buffer variances, and stream relocations in the 401 and 404 permitting process.  We work quietly but aggressively to minimize opposition and to maximize staff-level as well as political support.

Restrictive Growth Ordinances and Moratoria
Smith Moore Leatherwood's Land Use Team is aware of the increasing restrictions being placed on developers and landowners throughout the Southeast.  Our team regularly monitors and speaks on such restrictions and consults with clients about how such restrictions may affect them, and whether the restrictions are appropriate.  Moreover, when it appears that a restriction goes too far, or if interpretation or enforcement of a restriction is outside the legal boundaries applicable to local governments, our team stands ready to challenge the restriction to protect the rights of landowners.

Land Use Litigation
Our litigation experience has involved issues that relate to specific uses or types of development as well as broad ordinances that seek to slow development activities. We have experience working together with governmental bodies in numerous counties throughout North Carolina on building approvals and permits. We have also represented cities and counties in defending appropriate decisions.

Our approach in analyzing and litigating land use disputes is a pragmatic and team-oriented approach.  We seek to take advantage of our state-wide presence and experience.  Extensive knowledge of the current trends in land use regulation is crucial, we believe, to the representation of clients who are challenging specific land use decisions by local governmental agencies.  Of course, not every potential dispute needs to be litigated.  The Smith Moore Leatherwood land use team is skilled in alternate means of dispute resolution including mediation and arbitration.  However, should litigation become necessary, our attorneys are fully prepared to handle the situation.




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