Cozen O’Connor: Zoning, Land Use & Development

Zoning, Land Use & Development

Recent News:

Ken Fisher Quoted in Crain's New York Regarding Halletts A Development Deal in Brooklyn, NY

Ken Fisher, a member of the Government & Regulatory and the Real Estate Practice Groups, is quoted in Crain's New York in an article discussing massive projects in downtown Brooklyn, the Queens waterfront and 1 Vanderbilt, and a controversial office tower planned near Grand Central Terminal, and how developers collectively poured nearly $3 million into lobbyists in 2014. Halletts retained Cozen O'Connor for government relations and land-use issues related to the project.


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

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.

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.

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

Cozen O’Connor Earns Client Recognition in 2014 Chambers USA Rankings

May 30, 2014

Chambers USA recognized 29 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields; six attorneys were recognized nationally and eight were ranked in the top band. Stanley Sher was named a “Senior Statesman” in the “Transportation: Shipping: Regulatory (outside New York)” industry, for the pivotal role Sher plays in the firm’s continued success in the transportation industry.