The use of real property for productive purposes has become highly regulated and complex. Chambers USA, Best Lawyers, and Delaware Today’s Top Lawyers have selected Morris James attorneys as among the leading land use attorneys in Delaware. We are very familiar with the local development climate, as well as Delaware’s court system and local hearing bodies. According to Chambers USA, our clients applaud “not only [our] understanding of the law itself, but also how individual federal, state and local agencies apply it in practice.”
Why our clients rely on us:
- Morris James pursues land use approvals from the administrative process through litigation if necessary, whereas our competitors will not always agree to litigate.
- Morris James has competent land use counsel located in each of Delaware’s three counties and the deepest bench in a single firm, a major advantage for clients with state-wide operations or complex matters.
- Firm lawyers have also worked in all the state’s major municipalities, including Wilmington, Newark, Rehoboth Beach, and Lewes.
- Due to its memberships in State Law Resources and ALFA, Morris James can activate regional or national networks of land use attorneys to pursue matters with common zoning issues, including in conjunction within its Government Relations department.
- National companies such as Perdue Foods, Clear Channel, and Choice Hotels value the firm’s local connections, complex analysis and polished work product.
- Home grown institutions such as Beebe Healthcare also choose the firm for zoning matters.
Optimal Outcomes With Our Multidisciplinary Practice
Our resources as a multidisciplinary law firm enable us to draw on the experience of colleagues from aligned legal disciplines, including real estate transactions, government relations, litigation, corporate, and tax to achieve optimal outcomes. For example, clients may seek to utilize a team of firm specialists to draft a conservation easement or trust and obtain associated tax advice.
Morris James represents major developers, investors, and builders. We also work with institutions, business owners, and individuals planning for new projects and buildings, expansions, and additions to existing improvements. Our attorneys have successfully defended against challenges to zoning and other development approvals, as well as zoning and building code violations. We also craft legislation to overcome project development impediments and shepherd bills and ordinances through the process to adoption. Here is a list of representative representations our attorneys have handled.
Drafting and Review of Documents
A key component of our Land Use Practice concerns drafting and review of land use applications and the documents normally required to implement a zoning or subdivision approval, such as deed restrictions and easements, and maintenance association documents. Additionally, we use our land use knowledge to write optimal use provisions in leases, deed restrictions, developer agreements, and neighborhood association contracts. We also review and analyze government agency records such as prior zoning approvals, existing violations and future land use plans, condemnation plans, environmental reports, and proposed zoning legislation to support new acquisitions.
Appeals – Delaware Supreme Court upheld Superior Court decision, confirming Board of Adjustment grant of special use permit allowing owner to proceed with plans for processing plant
Building Code – obtained waiver from local building code requirements regarding high rise stair tower width preventing expensive tear-down and reconstruction of existing tower
Commercial Development – obtained zoning change from commercial to industrial to permit plant expansion and headquarters development
Condemnation – facilitated local government’s condemnation of lands of adjoining property owner to allow installation of sewer connection for client’s residential development project
Deed Restrictions – Chancery Court litigation and settlement of dispute between three commercial property owners regarding enforcement of 20-year-old use restrictions
Default/Workout Situations – represented foreclosing lender through disposition of asset where local government issued stop work order on hotel project and borrower; both declared bankruptcy and sued the local zoning authority in Chancery Court
Land Use Advocacy – represented media companies regarding changes to Sussex County sign ordinances
Mixed Use Development – provided strategic counseling and written presentation materials to obtain development approvals and zoning change for village of over 2,000 homes and multi-faceted town center
Residential Subdivision – obtained zoning approval of 84-lot community in Bear, Delaware, including hearings on the plan, drafting common area maintenance agreements, resolving disputes with the Delaware Department of Transportation regarding contribution to transportation improvements, and obtaining an easement on adjoining parcel for storm water improvements
Rezoning – obtained rezoning approval and conditional use for 80 multi-family duplexes
Variance – obtained relief from lot coverage ratio, riparian buffer, and setback requirements for illegally constructed commercial property, resulting in a certificate of occupancy
Wireless/Cellular Carrier – secured multi-site use variances, conditional use approvals, and building permits for national cellular company’s entire New Castle County network
Zoning Due Diligence – identified encroachment of existing structures into riparian buffer so purchasing client could demand correction of violation as a closing condition
Green Energy – supported financing of innovative fuel cell project with zoning opinions on installation sites
Healthcare – obtained approval of multiple nursing home facilities for regional provider
Historic – successfully appealed historic board decision to license and inspection official
Exactions – successfully opposed imposition of commercial easement exaction by Delaware Department of Transportation as a building permit condition
- November 3, 2022
- August 18, 2022
- June 2, 2022
- February 28, 2022
- February 1, 2022
- November 4, 2021
- October 26, 2021
- August 23, 2021
Latest Blog Posts
Delaware Healthcare Industry Blog
- September 7, 2022
- UPDATE: Morris James LLP Offers Businesses Assistance with Recently Renewed Site Readiness Fund from Delaware Division of Small BusinessAugust 15, 2022
- April 8, 2022
- Morris James Offers Businesses Assistance with Site Readiness Fund from Delaware Division of Small BusinessFebruary 8, 2022
- October 25, 2021
- March 16, 2020
- March 13, 2020
- March 12, 2020
Videos & Podcasts
- February 1, 2022