Cozen O’Connor: Zoning, Land Use & Development

Zoning, Land Use & Development

Recent News:

17 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Recognized as New York Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Super Lawyers has named 17 Cozen O'Connor attorneys to its 2019 New York Super Lawyers and Rising Stars list.


Cozen O’Connor has represented residential, commercial, retail, and industrial builders in the development and redevelopment of building lots and millions of square feet of real estate. Our team handles every aspect of the zoning, land use, and development approvals process, from obtaining building permits and variances to negotiating stormwater management and traffic plans. We have experience working on multifamily homes and condominiums, office buildings and shopping centers, single-use buildings such as pharmaceutical headquarters and educational institutions, municipal buildings, and public infrastructure. We are equally adept at managing development in densely built cities as in suburban or rural regions.

Having handled hundreds of projects to date, our real estate lawyers can recognize, anticipate, and resolve issues early. We advise clients candidly when a proposal is likely to confront insurmountable resistance in the approvals process and work closely with architectural, engineering, and budget experts to create realistic, approvable alternatives. Once a development plan is in place, we obtain the necessary approvals to allow construction to begin as soon as possible. We frequently engage government overseers on multiple, parallel tracks and are tenacious about advancing our clients' development goals.

Cozen O’Connor attorneys understand, however, that smart advocacy requires both persistence and diplomacy. Most real estate development — from the addition of a small parking lot to the construction of a one-million-square-foot high rise — invites objection from one party or another. To reach a satisfactory resolution and enable development to go forward, real estate counsel must listen to the concerns of all stakeholders and be able to communicate effectively with government officials, funders, community groups, and residents. Through open and respectful consultation, we are able to keep projects on track and out of court. In those rare cases when negotiation is not possible, we are prepared to litigate to protect clients’ legitimate property rights.



  • Appear before boards of elected officials, planning commissions, and zoning hearing boards
  • Guide clients through local, state, and federal agency land use application processes
  • Negotiate zoning approvals, variances, special exceptions, and conditional uses
  • Advocate for rezoning on clients’ behalf
  • Obtain land use approvals and special use permits
  • Obtain site plan and subdivision approvals
  • Address grading, floodplain, stormwater management, and other environmental issues
  • Address highway occupancy and traffic considerations
  • Represent clients in land use, zoning, boundary line, and easement litigation



Zoning Hurdles for Budding Pennsylvania Cannabis Businesses [Cannabis Alert]

August 09, 2017

Bob Careless discusses how Pennsylvania municipalities are handling zoning cannabis related businesses.

What De Blasio’s Land Use Agenda Means for Brooklyn Real Estate Development [Real Estate Alert]

June 01, 2017

Ken Fisher discusses key current proposals that could set the stage for the next wave of growth in Brooklyn.

Greed Gets Its Groove Back [Northeast Real Estate Business]

May 01, 2012

Greed Gets Its Groove Back - Northeast Real Estate Business - Fear and greed. To paraphrase Emeritus Professor Peter Lineman at The Wharton School, these are the yin and yang of commercial real estate cycles, the opposing psychological forces that dictate the direction of the industry. On the upstroke of a cycle, greed is the dominant force while fear goes into hiding. We saw this all too well in 2005 and 2006. No one feared that his projections might not come to fruition or that cap rate compression might not last forever. The cycle has lasted so long...

In The News

17 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Recognized as New York Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

September 27, 2019

Super Lawyers has named 17 Cozen O'Connor attorneys to its 2019 New York Super Lawyers and Rising Stars list.

138 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named to the Best Lawyers in America

August 28, 2019

Best Lawyers selected 138 Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 21 of the firm’s national offices for inclusion in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

"It gives me comfort": Real estate reacts to Katz's "miraculous" Queens DA Victory [The Real Deal]

August 07, 2019

Ken Fisher discusses Queens District Attorney Democratic candidate Melinda Katz's narrow victory over Tiffany Cabán in the primary that was announced only after a lengthy manual recount and threats of affidavit ballot challenges.

Courtyard Battle Heats Up at Apartment Complex in Brooklyn

July 27, 2019

Ken Fisher was featured on a WPIX 11 New York news segment discussing the plan to build a parking garage below the Riverside Apartment complex courtyard in Brooklyn.

What the Industry is Saying About the Federal Rent Law Challenge

July 17, 2019

Ken Fisher notes the makeup of the Supreme Court could impact New York's Rent Stabilization Association's and Community Housing Improvement Program's lawsuit, challenging the New York State rent stabilization law, in an article in The Real Deal.

What the Death of the Vacancy Bonus means for Landlords

June 17, 2019

Ken Fisher comments on the impact just-enacted changes to New York’s rent laws will have on New York City landlords, including a provision eliminating the ability to raise rents by 20% when a rent-regulated tenant moved out.

REBNY is donating more than ever. But so are its independent-minded constituents

June 05, 2019

Ken Fisher shares his thoughts on the increase in political contributions from landlords above what their trade association, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), as the State Legislature prepares for its most significant overhaul in decades.

Affordable Housing Landlords Among City’s Most Active Evictors

May 22, 2019

Ken Fisher explains why the narrative of aggressive evictions in New York is unfair to landlords in a PincusCo article.

Inside the fight to revamp Right to Counsel

May 13, 2019

Ken Fisher discusses New York City's Right to Counsel law in The Real Deal. The article explains that New York passed the law in 2017, guaranteeing a lawyer to all low-income tenants facing eviction, and while it has received support from both tenants and landlords some issues still remain.

13 Cozen O'Connor Attorneys Recognized as Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

April 25, 2019

The 2019 Washington, D.C, edition of Super Lawyers Magazine, published by Thomson Reuters, has named 13 Cozen O’Connor attorneys to its list of Super Lawyers and Rising Stars.

First Lutheran Church Reaches Settlement with City of Saint Paul in Religious Liberty Suit

February 06, 2019

In the settlement, the city acknowledged that RLUIPA is an important and central aspect of its land use decisions and is a primary consideration in processing and responding to land use applications made to the city.

Ken Fisher Elected to Board of Directors of Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

November 05, 2018

Kenneth Fisher, a member of the Business Law Department at Cozen O’Connor, has been elected to the board of directors of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Fisher will serve a two-year term on the board, effective October 25, 2018.

18 Cozen O'Connor Attorneys Named New York Metro Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

September 21, 2018

Super Lawyers has named 17 Cozen O'Connor attorneys to its 2018 New York Super Lawyers and Rising Stars list. Twelve were recognized as Super Lawyers and five were named "Rising Stars."

Proposal Calls For 26-Unit Apartment Building To Replace Columbia Heights Rowhouses

August 21, 2018

Meridith Moldenhauer, a member of the firm’s Real Estate Practice discusses an apartment development project in the Colombia Heights area of Washington, D.C.

Can NYC increase local input without endangering real estate projects?

July 23, 2018

Ken Fisher, a member of Cozen O'Connor’s Business Law Department, discusses the review of the New York City charter by two commissions and the potential impact to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

Rent Guidelines Board leaves affordable-housing developers in a pinch

June 27, 2018

Ken Fisher, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Business Law Department, discusses the NYC Rent Guidelines Board’s vote to allow a 1.5 percent increase on one-year leases and a 2.5 percent increase on two-year leases to rent-regulated apartments in New York City.

Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers Recognizes 15 Cozen O'Connor Attorneys

May 15, 2018

Fourteen Cozen O’Connor attorneys have been named 2018 Super Lawyers or Rising Stars by Super Lawyers Magazine Washington, D.C. edition, published by Thomson Reuters.

Can Brooklyn MLS Keep it Going Alone?

February 01, 2018

Ken Fisher, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Business Law Department, discusses Brooklyn Multiple Listing Service’s (MLS) increase in memberships in the recent years despite losing the benefits from the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) membership in The Real Deal.

D.C.'s Office of Planning asked for Comprehensive Plan comments. It got 3,000.

September 07, 2017

Meridith Moldenhauer, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Zoning, Land Use & Development Practice, discusses the increase in proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments that Washington, D.C.’s Office of Planning received during an open call process to seek feedback from residents in Washington Business Journal.

100 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers Named to the Best Lawyers in America

August 23, 2017

Lawyers were selected for inclusion in the 2018 edition based on a rigorous peer-review that has been developed and defined for more than 30 years.

Cozen O’Connor Continues Rapid Expansion in Washington, D.C., with Addition of Zoning, Land Use & Development Group

June 27, 2017

The group is led by Meridith Moldenhauer, who joins as a member, and includes Samantha Mazo, who joins as of counsel, Alyssa Bigley and Eric DeBear, who both join as attorneys, and Stephen Varga, who joins as planning services director.

Cozen O’Connor Earns Client Recognition in 2016 Chambers USA Rankings

May 27, 2016

Chambers USA recognized 41 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields; 12 attorneys were recognized nationally and 11 were ranked in the top band.

Vivien Krieger Comments on 15-Story Mixed Use Building Planned for Jackson Heights

November 24, 2015

Due to the building’s proximity to LaGuardia Airport, changes are required to the maximum height allowance in the area. According to Krieger, the FAA and the Port Authority determined that the proposed height restrictions do not constitute a danger.

Ken Fisher Quoted in The New York Times on Midtown Manhattan Redevelopment

June 05, 2015

Ken Fisher was quoted in The New York Times in an article addressing the redevelopment of Midtown Manhattan’s historic architectural buildings, and how the designation of being a preserved landmark building is made. The article explores how New York City’s expanding real estate landscape is creating challenges for preservation societies, who work to protect historical buildings throughout the city.

Ken Fisher Quoted in WNYC on New York City's 421-a Tax Exemption

June 02, 2015

Ken Fisher, a member in the firm’s Real Estate Practice Group, discussed New York City’s 421-a tax exemption on WNYC radio. In the piece, Ken addresses how the New York City Department of Buildings has been handling the influx of applications.

Ken Fisher Quoted in Crain's New York Regarding Halletts A Development Co. Project in Queens, NY

March 05, 2015

Ken Fisher Quoted in Crain's New York Regarding Halletts A Development Co. Project in Queens, NY