Beveridge & Diamond

Land Use and Natural Resources - Environmental


Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. provides the complete range of land use and real estate services to property owners, developers, builders, government agencies and trade associations.  Our experience runs the gamut of planning, zoning, subdivision and permitting for projects as well as any necessary real estate transactions.  We practice before state and federal administrative agencies and courts.  With project development, we are well versed in takings law as well as “smart growth” principles and the use of Section 1983 property rights in land use litigation.

Full Description

Beveridge & Diamond provides its industrial, commercial, retail and residential clients with a nationwide network of highly experienced land use attorneys.  We represent developers, builders and property owners seeking all types of permits and approvals before a myriad of local, state and federal boards, agencies and permit-granting authorities which permeate the modern development landscape. 

Our experience covers all stages of the land use approval process including the applicability of land use and zoning provisions, selection of skilled consultants, preparation of applications for approval, formulation of strategies and implementation of tactics, obtaining variances, special permits, site plan approvals and zoning exemptions and representation before government bodies in both informal sessions and formal hearings. Equally important, we provide these legal services while maintaining a focus on the client’s time constraints and the financial realities of the project. We also represent trade associations, non-profit institutions, citizens groups and state, regional and local government bodies.

When necessary, we pursue land use approvals in the state and federal trial and appellate courts. Our land use litigation experience is as broad as our land use practice and includes defending approvals and prosecuting permit denials.  Representative cases include regulatory takings, determinations of the validity of zoning amendments, defense of property owners against eminent domain lawsuits filed by governments, and property rights litigation including under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. We also try cases in the related real estate arena  -- regardless of whether a permit is a stake -- including adverse possession, quieting title, breach of contract, specific performance, nuisance and injunctive or declaratory relief, and challenges to or defense of easements, rights of way or other interests in land.

The Firm’s land use experience includes, for example, coordinating the planning and legal strategy for applications for subdivision and zoning approvals, representing owners in historic designation processes, analyzing proposed state land use legislation and advising clients on "Smart Growth" and comprehensive plan techniques. Of course, the staple of our practice is obtaining project approvals ranging from residential subdivisions, assisted living facilities, and affordable housing projects to retail establishments, office buildings, mixed use development, stadiums, shopping malls, telecommunications towers and power plants. Permits we obtain include zoning, wetlands, endangered species, environmental, septic, sewer and water.  Attorneys at the Firm not only understand the applicable state and federal statutes but also focus on local land use rules, regulations and restrictions that bear on a development proposal. Our ability to call upon the Firm's environmental attorneys with complex environmental problems provides maximum efficiency to the client.

For industrial clients, we apply for and obtain land use approvals for new projects as well as facility expansions and modifications. Representative projects include landfills, steel mills, gas-to-energy facilities, and army bases. 

The Firm represents numerous state and national trade associations on housing, property rights, zoning, legislative and land development matters. We obtain permits and exemptions and exceptions to land use regulations for our non-profit clients, which include charitable, religious, healthcare and educational institutions. 

We also serve as land use counsel to state and local governmental clients. Our work includes drafting master plans and state enabling legislation for development impact fees and designation of land areas as a historic district. Our public sector work ranges from representation of a board or agency during the  permitting process to defense of its decision in litigation.  We are fully versed in American Planning Association’s model Smart Growth code, having participated in the drafting process. 

Whether by negotiation or litigation, we assist our clients in bringing the land use approval process to a successful conclusion.

Representative Matters
Representative Matters
  • Affordable Housing Project Approval Awarded. The Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) recently issued a Decision in favor of our client awarding it the right to construct a 76-unit, single-family cluster-style residential project in Grafton, Massachusetts. After a seven-day trial, the HAC found in a 36-page ruling that the permit granted by the Town of Grafton Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) contained uneconomic conditions which prevented the developer from proceeding with an affordable housing project on which he could receive a reasonable rate of return. HAC ordered the ZBA to issue an amended comprehensive permit allowing our client to construct its 76-unit project along with numerous waivers from provisions of local zoning, wetlands and board of health rules and regulations.
  • Mixed Use Project Can Proceed. Our client, a development company, filed a mixed use development application with a large city in Maryland for a 125 acre vacant parcel.  The application complied with the city’s master plan and zoning ordinance.  Because of strong community opposition, the city used planning and subdivision measures, as well as a moratorium and public facilities requirements, to effectively prevent development of the property.  We sued, claiming constitutional violations and seeking damages.  When the court refused to dismiss the case or rule for the city on summary judgment and ordered a trial, the city settled the case.  With some slight modifications, the project is moving forward.
  • Historic Site Designation Defeated. A housing developer sought to develop a property in conformance with planning and zoning requirements.  Part of the site was occupied by a handsome Tudor-style house.  The community, to defeat the proposed project, filed documents with the county historic preservation commission and planning commission to have the existing house and site designated as historic.  We successfully fought the designation through the public hearing process, obtained demolition and building permits, then engaged in negotiation with the community to prevent any appeals of the county-issued permits.  Our client agreed to move the existing house to another location on the site, allowing his project to proceed, and all community appeals were dropped.