Zoning and Land Use

Zoning and land use are key elements of Venable's real estate practice. Our zoning and land use attorneys are located in major jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York City, Northern Virginia, and Northern and Southern California. Clients benefit from our local knowledge, experience, and working relationships, which are essential to a successful zoning and land use process.

Our land use attorneys represent real estate investors, developers, landowners, and public agencies that have simple to complex zoning and land use needs. We have a breadth of experience in the legislative, administrative, and regulatory aspects of complex zoning, landmarks, and other land use issues. Typically engaged at the outset of a project, we develop and implement legal strategies to expedite a project, from the conceptual stage all the way through application and ultimate approval, while minimizing the risk of litigation and other delays.

We provide regulatory compliance counseling on zoning and planning, landmarks and historic preservation, environmental issues, redevelopment, building code issues, coastal zones (and other special protection areas), agency permits, variances and approvals, public review requirements, and other issues, including analysis and interpretation of regulations, administrative procedures, and guidelines. We regularly negotiate public-private agreements relating to easements, common infrastructure, cost sharing, cost reimbursements, transferable development rights, and air rights transactions. We are highly effective in assisting clients with community and government relations, and defending them against administrative and court challenges related to land use approvals.

Who We Are

  • More than 65 attorneys and paralegals focused on real estate transactions
  • Counsel to one-third of publicly held REITs in America
  • More than 35 attorneys focused on land use and environmental law
  • Four members of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers
  • Current and past leadership of:
    • ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law
    • American College of Real Estate Lawyers

Practice Focus

  • Development
    • Acquisition and disposition
    • Condominiums/cooperatives
    • Construction contracts
    • Environmental concerns
    • Hotel management agreements
    • Joint ventures
    • Like-kind exchanges
    • Public-private partnerships
    • Stock purchase agreements
  • Leasing
    • Biotechnology
    • Build-to-suit transactions
    • Government
    • Ground leases
    • Office
    • Retail and restaurant
    • Warehouse/industrial
  • Financing
    • Defeasance
    • Hedges/swaps
    • Mezzanine financing
    • Mortgage lending/borrowing
    • Sale/leaseback
    • Securitized lending
    • Strategies for dealing with distressed real estate
    • Tax-exempt bonds
    • Tax increment financing
    • Tax planning for real estate transactions
  • Real estate–related taxes
    • PILOT agreements
    • Recordation and transfer tax planning
    • Tax exemptions
  • Zoning and land use

Project Types

  • Biotech laboratories
  • Condominiums/cooperatives
  • Hotels/resorts
  • Industrial properties
  • Mixed-use urban land development
  • Multi-family housing
  • Office buildings
  • Residential communities
  • Retail properties
  • Shopping centers
  • Telecommunications facilities

Client Focus

  • Banks
  • Brokers
  • Developers
  • Hospitality companies
  • Investors
  • Lenders
  • Life insurance companies
  • Pension funds
  • Property managers
  • REITs
  • Retailers
  • Syndicators
  • Telecom and utility companies


  • Chambers USA (Band 1, DC and Maryland), 2012 - 2016
  • Ranked in U.S. News-Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms," 2011 - 2020
    • Tier 1 Real Estate Law (National; Baltimore; DC)
    • Tier 1 Litigation – Real Estate (National), 2011 - 2019
    • Tier 1 Eminent Domain and Condemnation (Baltimore)
    • Tier 1 Land Use and Zoning Law (Baltimore)
    • Tier 1 Litigation – Land Use and Zoning (Baltimore), 2011 – 2017
  • Ranked among the nation's top firms for Land Use/Zoning in Legal 500
  • Attorneys with top rankings by
    • Best Lawyers in America
    • Chambers USA
    • Legal 500