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Three ways an attorney can help with municipal matters

Three ways an attorney can help with municipal matters

By Sean Turley

If you’re a property owner, there are typically three situations when the support of a land use attorney is advantageous. Broken down simply, you might consider engaging an attorney in situations in which you are (1) proposing a project that needs a municipal permit or approval; (2) fighting such a project, or (3) involved in a dispute with neighbors regarding the use of their land.

Applying for a permit

A land use attorney can provide valuable insight when it comes to performing a critical review of a land use that requires a permit. That attorney can provide support by reviewing and explaining the applicable ordinances to help you understand what provisions you need to follow, the steps you need to take to get something approved, and the different players that you’ll be working with to receive a permit. An attorney’s input can help smooth out the process and resolve any issues that may arise.

Say you’d like to subdivide your land. In addition to helping you obtain proper approvals and permitting, an attorney can advise on how to answer the questions you’ll be asked as part of this process and what you can expect along the way. Being prepared in advance allows you to approach any challenges with confidence, potentially reduce expenses, and ensure your project moves forward without a hitch.

Challenging a project

Alternatively, you may seek the advice of a land use attorney when you’re challenging a project proposed by a neighbor. There are many reasons why you might have an issue with a project located near you, but not all of them are grounds for that project to not be approved. For example, your neighbor may have applied for or retained a permit for a new structure on their property, but you believe there’s an issue regarding setbacks. An attorney can help identify any actual violations of your town’s ordinances by your neighbor and advise you on whether you’re in a position to challenge the approval of that structure. If so, they can help in building and presenting your case.

Disputes among neighbors

Sometimes, there are disputes among landowners that might require legal intervention, such as disagreements about the location of boundary lines, the use of easement, or the proper interpretation of a deed. A land use attorney can assist by first identifying and explaining any relevant documents and then addressing the issue with the neighbor to find a resolution. If needed, an attorney can also provide support in filing a lawsuit.

What to look for in a land use attorney
  • Someone who is experienced both in front of municipal boards and before courts (in case the situation advances to that level).
  • An individual who is well versed in state law and municipal ordinances.
  • Particularly when you are seeking a permit, an attorney who is committed to understanding your goals and learning about your project as a whole.

When it comes to your property, it’s important to have the assistance you need when these types of issues arise. Reach out to our land use team for more information about how an attorney at Murray Plumb & Murray can provide support for your land use needs.