Land Use and Municipal Law

The attorneys in the Land Use and Municipal Law Practice Group have extensive experience in municipal, land use, real estate, and environmental law and related litigation. We advise and represent public and private clients on the full range of municipal, land use, zoning and planning, and administrative and related issues.

Practice Group Chair Jim Katsiaficas was formerly Senior Staff Attorney for the Maine Municipal Association and served as the Association’s Assistant Director for State and Federal Relations. He has been chair of the Maine State Bar Association’s Natural Resources and Environmental Law and Public Sector and Government Lawyers’ Sections, and was state chair for the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

We represent developers, businesses, landowners, and abutters, as well as municipalities and their officials, boards and committees regarding local zoning and planning law (including subdivision, shoreland zoning, and site plan review) and State land use law (such as Site Location of Development Act) issues. Land use matters often involve issues that cross several legal areas: a single proposed sale of real estate may raise local land use ordinance issues, state and federal environmental issues and local, state and federal taxation issues, as well as the standard real estate transaction questions. Our related experience as members of the firm’s Environmental, Real Estate, Government Relations, and Energy practice groups brings exceptional knowledge to any legal land use challenge.

We often work in teams with engineers, consultants, traffic, wetlands, and other land use experts and governmental relations consultants to create coordinated and efficient strategies to meet clients’ legal and regulatory needs.

Municipal Law

We represent and advise municipalities, their boards and committees, and their officials as well as individuals and businesses in the full range of municipal law subjects, including contracts, labor relations and employment, ordinance drafting, elections, property taxation, tax increment financing, eminent domain, litigation, and regulation, including land use and enforcement matters.

Litigation

We represent and advise developers, businesses, abutters, and municipalities and their boards and committees in appeals from and in defense of local zoning and planning and State land use law decisions. We also defend individuals and property and business owners against land use violation claims by local and State government agencies. We have filed, argued, and defended dozens of appeals from local and State land use decisions and have briefed and argued many land use and municipal cases before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. In addition, we have experience in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods, such as mediation and arbitration, to provide for more timely and less costly resolution of issues.

Representative Matters

Some recent matters our Land Use and Municipal Law Group has handled illustrate the scope of our work:

  • Successfully obtained Portland harborfront development permits from the City Harbor Commission, Maine DEP, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a coordinated buyer/seller effort
  • Worked with a team of consultants and engineers to obtain State DEP Site Location of Development, Natural Resource Protection Act and stormwater permits, and Portland and Westbrook Planning Board, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wetlands and MDOT Traffic management approvals for a half-million acre retail plaza development
  • Helped create the Long Creek Watershed Management District, consisting of over 100 public and private owners, in response to the U.S.P.A.’s first in the nation use of its Residual Designation Authority to require restoration of an urban impaired stream
  • Served as fact finder / investigator for municipal employment and discipline matters
  • Successfully represented the town of Bucksport and the City of Bath in property tax abatement cases
  • Represented a coalition of Maine businesses and organizations in drafting and presenting to the State Legislature proposed legislation regarding big box retail development entitled the Maine Informed Growth Act, which passed with bipartisan and gubernatorial support
  • Assisted a client in successfully appealing a propane and natural gas inspector’s decision to the Propane and Natural Gas Board of Maine, enabling the client to install an engineered, state of the art greenhouse heating and CO2 production system
  • Obtained a favorable Maine Superior Court decision granting a citizen group’s Rule 80B petition to void a municipal rezoning to allow big box retail development abutting a residential neighborhood
  • Represented a natural gas public utility in land asset disposition before the Maine Public Utilities Commission
  • Obtained permits for a client to renovate an interstate truck stop at a Route 95 travel plaza and add a rest area for tired truckers
  • Obtained a favorable decision from the Maine Law Court on behalf of Maine Rivers, Trout Unlimited, the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, intervenors in the case of FPL Energy Maine Hydro v. DEP that affirmed a decision by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection
  • Obtained land use permits for a client to construct a beachfront hotel