Appearing Bfoe Local Zoning or Planning Boards--Use the Local Luiminary to Help You "Sail Through the Process"

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There are some important things I have learned about appearances before local Planning Boards or Zoning Boards. Have someone really "local" leading your team. I am a Massachusetts practicing real estate attorney with more than 40 years of experience. From time to time, I am asked to represent clients before local Boards. I can make myself familiar with the terms of the local ordinances. I can speak to people I know in the community involved to find out what the appetite is in that community for the type of development or zoning change my client is seeking. I have some public speaking ability.

All of that being said, I never, ever appear before a local Board without retaining an attorney or attorneys who live in the town or city in question, or have a considerable amount of experience obtaining successful decisions in that arena. I have experienced too many "knowing looks" from  Board members in the past, when I tell them where I am from. It just doesn't get me much mileage when I appear in Town X, in Y County and inform the Board members that I practice in Boston.

Have your  primary attorney find out who it is who gets  positive decisions in the town or city you are working in. Contact that person. In Massachusetts. I have complied a list of "go-to" people in many communities. I will gladly furnish my knowledge to any of you if you contact me.

You may want to keep your primary attorney somehow involved for iinformation and communication purposes, only. Your primary attorney should stay "way" in the background.  Allow the local luminary to have center stage.

If there ever is a time when "LOCAL" means something, it is before municipal Boards, who have the power to either make or break your intended transaction(s). Make sure your appearance before these bodies acknowledges that fact, and your chances of success are exponentially increased.


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Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate


You are so right.  Without someone who knows the local customs and attitudes, and the power behind the power, it is very easy to step into a mess that can be very costly to unravel.  Just gratuitously bruising egos can be expensive.

We see it often here, with out of town developers failing to recognize that the area somehow survived before they came to town.

Jan 29, 2010 11:17 PM #1
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Elliott S. Topkins

Massachusetts Real Estate and Title Atty
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