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Land Use

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We make it our business to know our communities. Our land use attorneys thrive at the intersection of local commerce, politics and civic life, leveraging local knowledge, experience and relationships to position our clients’ projects for success. 

Williams Mullen’s land use team provides comprehensive guidance in all manner of land use and zoning matters, including preparing, submitting, negotiating, and defending our client’s applications for project entitlements before local government staff, planning commissions, elected bodies, and community stakeholders. 

We assist clients with a broad array of land use and zoning needs, which include:

  • Securing non-appealable project entitlements and approvals
  • Zoning compliance and appeals
  • Acquisition due diligence and site analysis
  • Local ordinance amendments
  • Site plan, plan of development and other administrative permitting and approval
  • Right of way dedications and vacations
  • Subdivisions
  • Variances
  • Historic preservation permitting
  • Environmental permitting
  • Economic development and local and state economic incentive packages
  • Local government relations

Our Reach – It’s in the Numbers

Williams Mullen’s land use practice comprises seasoned attorneys strategically positioned in offices throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, from the Blue Ridge to the Potomac to the Oceanfront, and the State of North Carolina, based in Raleigh. Our formidable team of attorneys has led land use and zoning projects in 93 cities and counties throughout Virginia and over 90 counties in North Carolina.   

More than a Useful Rolodex – Trusted Leaders in Land Use & Development

As a regional, full-service law firm, our attorneys proudly invest in the civic and political life of the places where we live, work and play. Our relationships attest to a foundation of trust from stakeholders in all corners of our communities, reflecting our team’s commitment to fostering quality investment in both the built environment and the human capital that brings those communities to life and sustains them. 

Our team’s varied and well-honed skills evince the unique demands of this dynamic practice, such as navigating community opposition with targeted education and open communication, developing strategies for mitigating impacts of projects on environmental and historic resources, and building consensus based on our nuanced understanding of the shared values of our communities.

We take pride in our attorneys’ frequent awards and recognition as thought leaders on the legal, policy and political aspects of land development. Our team serves as trusted counselors to associations representing a broad sector of the housing development industry. These roles position us at the forefront of policymaking discussions concerning, for example, affordable housing tools, economic development incentives, cash proffers (i.e. monetary exactions), and a multitude of other key state and local government policies and regulations pertaining to land development.

Extensive Knowledge in Key Industries

While our team regularly assists in land use aspects of commercial real estate transactions in a diverse breadth of industry sectors, Williams Mullen commands a profound depth of experience and knowledge of certain industries. Our land use practitioners apply their understanding of and familiarity with the business realities of these sectors to maximize their effectiveness as advocates for typically complex and controversial land use cases. They include:

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  • Represented West Broad Village, a 115-acre urban mixed-use development in Henrico County, Va., resulting in a total investment exceeding a value of $1 billion. Provided counsel on all matters related to land planning, amendment of the County’s Comprehensive Plan, rezoning and land use approval, environmental permitting, acquisition and related financing, Plan of Development (site plan) approval, subdivision, construction and related financing, condominium structure, owners’ association documents, residential lot sales and landlord lease negotiations. Approved master plan includes over 500,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 884 residential units, 430 hotel rooms, and 600,000 square feet of office space in two 18-story towers.
  • Rezoned 185 acres for The Village of Swift Creek in the County of Chesterfield, Va. Mixed-use development includes a shopping center with outparcels, office, light industrial, and up to 790 multifamily residential units. Representation included a waiver of development standards to permit location of company’s standard architectural style within shopping center and obtaining additional signage for shopping center.
  • Counsel for the Shops at Stratford Hill in the City of Richmond, Va. Created and obtain approval of the first Community Unit Plan in 15 years in the City for a 420,000 square foot shopping center that would replace an existing depreciating center. Anchor retailers are Ukrop's and Target and at the time resulted in the second largest open-air retail center in the City of Richmond. Work involved all aspects of resolution of various title issues, economic development incentives, and resolution of zoning environmental, traffic and utility issues.
  • Represented developer of 907-acre mixed-use development off Route 17 in Gloucester County, Va, named The Villages of Gloucester. Assisted with rezoning to permit a planned unit development golf course community, 21-acre business park and mix of housing types with up to 885 dwelling units. Amenities include a public par-72 championship golf course with a practice course and driving range, pro shop, and bar and grill; indoor and outdoor swimming pools; tennis courts; 13-acre public park and walking trails. Unique design features a village center with a mix of uses and housing types, significant open space, landscaping, and buffering that includes over 172 acres of parks. 47 percent of the land is contained in scenic open space with at least six miles of walking trails. The plan contains neo-traditional street and alley design, plus traffic calming measures. All homes are within a three-minute walk of a community center, recreation facility or open space.
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