Land Use and Zoning

In today’s economy, land use approvals are more critical than ever.  Commercial, office, industrial and residential developments must move rapidly through governmental approval processes to meet the critical time demands of business.  The competing interests of those in the “zoning game” often place developers, municipalities and individual property owners at odds, frequently slowing down the process or causing problems for successful outcomes.

Frost Brown Todd provides legal representation in the “zoning game” through our Land Use and Zoning Practice.  Comprised of litigators, real estate, environmental and administrative practitioners, this practice area has a wide focus designed to accomplish our clients’ objectives in the shortest time frame possible.  We represent developers, property owners and zoning applicants to secure development approvals. We also serve as zoning counsel to governmental entities.

Connections Make the Difference

In addition to having years of experience in the land use field, we maintain excellent relationships with builder associations, governmental agencies, and planning and zoning commissions and their staffs.  These relationships are critical to secure the shortest path to approval.  In short, we provide “soup to nuts” legal services to assist a broad and diverse client base in every aspect of land use and zoning, including:

  • Subdivision approvals
  • Zone changes, variances and special or conditional use permits
  • Zoning-related litigation, including administrative appeals and constitutional claims
  • Advising and defending governmental entities
  • Monitoring current issues and trends in land use law and updating clients accordingly
  • Counseling developers, property owners and zoning applicants through all stages of various zoning processes
  • Drafting and implementing updates and modifications to comprehensive plans and zoning codes

Representative Experience

  • FBT counseled a large subdivision developer through contentious planning commission proceedings and prosecuted administrative appeal of the planning commission's denial of client's proposal to the court of common pleas.
  • FBT helped a client obtain final plat approval of single-family subdivision near a local airport. This required close coordination with various government agencies, including the Ohio Department of Transportation, planning commissions, airport zoning boards and the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • FBT advised a local church on zoning procedures and public relations strategy for a proposed multimillion dollar expansion.
  • FBT prosecuted a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on behalf of a developer, where a county overcharged the developer $1,000,000 for tap-in fees. We obtained a settlement for 90% of the claimed amount.
  • FBT represented a village in numerous zoning and land use disputes, including a publicized action brought by the ACLU over an ordinance that restricted the display of political signs.
  • FBT secured a rezoning for a college for a large-scale athletic development.
  • FBT obtained a variance on behalf of a hospital to expand auxiliary services.
  • FBT prevailed an action regarding zoning of a shopping mall. The shopping mall required a variance to renovate and expand. After the variance was granted, a tenant sued the shopping mall based on the granted variance. The lawsuit was settled favorably for the shopping mall and the variance remained intact.
  • FBT represented industry-leading national steel manufacturer in all aspects of zoning- and environmental-related permit approval process and ongoing regulatory compliance.
  • FBT obtained a declaratory judgment against national mining company, thereby prohibiting installation of mine on proposed land.
  • FBT litigated, from trial through appeal, a watershed tax increment financing case on behalf of local government client.
  • FBT regularly performs zoning-related due diligence work for potential purchases of complex commercial and industrial properties.
  • FBT researched and drafted zoning code revisions and complete overhauls for numerous local government clients, both urban and rural in size.
  • FBT successfully defended multiple local government clients against highly publicized zoning permit denials involving alleged violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).
  • FBT prosecuted and defended eminent domain actions.