Land Use & Zoning

Overview

Working to maximize the interests of our public, as well as our private, clients within the confines of increasingly complex land use and zoning ordinances requires the combined experience of our public law and real estate attorneys, as well as the intervention of our seasoned land use litigators, when necessary. For many decades Walter | Haverfield has represented both public and private clients in land use and zoning matters, thus providing us with a unique perspective of all sides of the issues so that we can serve our clients more advantageously.

On the public side, this diverse team comes together to help cities, villages and townships develop vision-oriented and comprehensive land use and zoning regulations that are designed to spur planned residential and commercial growth and economic development, while protecting the interests of the community and its current landowners.

Some of the specific services we offer to cities, villages and townships include:

  • Provide general counsel services regarding the interpretation, application and enforcement of planning and zoning codes and resolutions.
  • Draft and review planning and zoning code and resolution amendments and prepare necessary legislation for adopting amendments, including measures that must be placed on the ballot.
  • Assist in the comprehensive land use planning process.
  • Provide support and counseling relative to zoning and building code enforcement including, but not limited to, public nuisance orders and abatement measures.
  • Train local councils, boards and commissions on administrative procedures, including quasi-judicial proceedings.
  • Provide litigation defense for any resulting administrative appeals filed with the court of common pleas under R.C. Chapter 2506, declaratory judgment/injunction actions, and “takings” claims.

We also work with private property owners and developers to help them realize their development goals, providing supportive counseling every step of the way, from acquisition through development, leasing, occupancy and eventual transfers of the property. Services we provide to private property owners and developers relative to land use and zoning include:

  • Obtain zoning and planning approval for development projects including, but not limited to, entitlements, development plans, preliminary and final subdivision plans, variances, conditional use approvals, nonconforming use or structure issues, zoning text or zoning map amendments, wetland approvals and building permits.
  • Provide representation before local councils, boards and commissions regarding zoning applications, handling any resulting litigation such as administrative appeals under R.C. Chapter 2506, declaratory judgment/injunction actions and “takings” claims.
  • Prepare all required agreements/documents for residential or commercial development projects, such as development agreements, performance guarantee agreements, easements, declarations of covenants and restrictions, storm water management agreements and conservation easements.

Both our public and private clients additionally benefit from our firm’s team of environmental law attorneys who provide counseling, as well as litigation services, on an array of zoning and land use issues, such as:

  • Environmental due diligence, including evaluation of Phase I and Phase II site investigations
  • Environmental covenants
  • Superfund investigations
  • Federal Clean Water Act and Ohio wetlands laws
  • Environmental enforcement actions relative to public-private real estate development projects
  • EPA cleanup orders

Experience

The Land Use & Zoning group’s experience  and services include the following:

  • Representation of a municipality in a taxpayer’s action seeking to prevent the municipality from erecting a communications tower on municipally-owned property.
  • Representation of school districts on matters wherein municipalities were seeking to regulate the districts’ development activities.
  • Representation of a municipality in litigation related to a municipally owned golf course and development of municipally-owned property adjacent to the golf course.
  • Negotiated purchase agreement and land reconfiguration with large corporate landowner for donation of land to the Cuyahoga County Public Library for the construction of new library in local village.
  • Conducted multiple eminent domain proceedings in Cuyahoga and Summit County Probate Courts to acquire right-of-way for roadway projects, as well as to facilitate economic development and secure recreational green space.
  • Negotiated easements with numerous private and public property owners to acquire rights to construct a $ 1 million dollar public hike and bike trail in local village pursuant to a federal grant awarded by NOACA and administered as an LPA project through ODOT.

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