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 the local knowledge, experience and working relationships that 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, as well as defending them in administrative and court challenges related to land use approvals.


  • Provided planning and land use legal services to a major university in connection with the development of the new hospital, health and wellness center, affinity dormitories, parking garage and university retail facility.
  • Represented major landowners in the approval of General Plan Amendments, Specific Plans, Zoning Amendments, certifications under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and Development Agreements throughout Northern California, including the South Livermore Area, the Vineyard Avenue Corridor, and the El Charro Corridor.
  • Represented a major refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area in the acquisition of CEQA and other approvals for an expansion of a rail yard and delivery of crude by rail.
  • Represented Hines/Archstone-Smith in the District of Columbia’s search for a development partner for the District’s old convention center site. Once the partner had been selected, Venable prepared a land use analysis for the team and consulted regularly on planning, zoning and land use issues.
  • Represented Louis Dreyfus in its negotiations with the District of Columbia government for the acquisition of the air rights over the Center Leg Freeway (I-395) and the site assemblage and leasing of 1101 New York Avenue, NW.
  • Represented Vornado/Charles E. Smith in the re-planning of the Crystal City area of Arlington County, Virginia, resulting in an area-wide increase in allowable density from roughly 25 million square feet to 40 million square feet. Later represented the same company in securing the rezoning and final site plan approval for the first major new building built under the new Crystal City plan, a 700,000 square-foot office tower replacing an older building of less than half that size.
  • Represented the JBG Companies in obtaining rezoning and final site plan approval for the Waterview, Central Place and Gateway mixed-use projects in the Rosslyn section of Arlington, each adding approximately one million square feet of mixed-use development around the Rosslyn Metro Station in Northern Virginia.
  • Represented a large-scale developer in a public/private partnership enterprise with Baltimore County and the State of Maryland to develop a transit-oriented, mixed-use development at the Owings Mills Metro Station, which includes a public library, community college center, office space, retail space, restaurants, a hotel, and residential units, the value which is estimated over $200 million.
  • Represented the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in connection with multiple government approvals for the major renovation and expansion of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open, in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, New York, including the rebuilding of Louis Armstrong Stadium and the Grandstand.
  • Represented Mount Sinai Medical Center in the development of a 500,000-square-foot state-of-the-art research facility and a 43-story residential tower at its Upper East Side Manhattan campus, requiring a Board of Standards and Appeals zoning variance, environmental review, development and construction contracts, creation of a multi-property zoning lot, and reciprocal easements among Mount Sinai and the residential condominium built in a vertically subdivided “air rights” parcel.
  • Assisted a client with assembling properties and obtaining the development approvals required for a mixed-use development that will cover an entire block of downtown Towson, Maryland.
  • Negotiated on behalf of a publicly-traded company over the location of a new NFL stadium on the client's long-term leasehold, resulting in the settlement of lawsuits and the adoption of a cooperation agreement.