Zoning and Land Use

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Dilts & Koester works with developers, builders, partnerships, companies     and individuals on projects ranging from applications for minor  variances  or  subdivisions  to  applications  for  approvals  and permits for major subdivisions and site plans for office developments, manufacturing, shopping  centers,  sports  centers,  health clubs,  banquet  facilities, warehouses, bank branch offices, retail developments, medical offices and · facilities,  automobile  dealerships,  golf  courses,  gas/mini-marts, garages, car washes, senior housing, religious  institutions, cell towers and single and multi-family housing developments.

The firm has experience working with communities throughout Hunterdon County, Somerset County, Warren County, Mercer County and surrounding areas in processing applications for zoning and land use approvals. Whether it involves  preparing and giving a presentation to a local land use board to explain a complex project, working through the regulatory maze of county and State regulations, wetlands issues, and sewer capacity concerns or drafting findings for a municipal board, we know how to make an administrative record that will support the optimal outcome possible for our client.

Dilts & Koester has been involved on both sides of commercial and residential developments requiring subdivision and/or site plan approvals in communities from Hunterdon, Mercer, Somerset and Warren Counties in New Jersey. Projects have ranged from two-lot subdivisions to office parks, shopping centers and mixed use projects involving commercial centers and up to 250 units of age restricted housing. Whether the application involves a golf course, a retail shopping center, an automobile dealership, a house of worship, a quick mart, an office building or senior housing complex, the basic goal is the same: to present the proper information in a clear manner that complies with the state and local regulations.  It requires careful preparation, close work with the client, good relationships with other professionals (including engineers, architects, planners, traffic engineers, consultants, environmental specialists, and contractors) and a working knowledge and experience with the local municipality, and County.

The firm has appeared in and/or represented dozens of communities and we know how to work through the often complex maize of procedures. The firm’s attorneys know and have worked with many of the leading planners, engineers, architects and lawyers who represent both developers and communities in and around western New Jersey.

Whether the firm’s clients are developers or owners reviewing a project, Dilts & Koester becomes involved at the earliest stages of a project and guides its clients through each procedural step in order to ensure compliance with the regulatory process. The firm’s attorneys view their roles not only as legal advisors but as team leaders to coordinate among the various consultants and experts to help provide the most consistent and comprehensive presentation or review possible.  With any good multi-disciplinary team, a single leader is needed to coordinate and match the efforts by each player.

  • Subdivisions and Site Plans

Dilts & Koester has represented individual property owners seeking to develop a single lot as well have national developers seeking approvals for large scale shopping centers or multi-home developments on large or multiple properties.  Whether you are seeking approvals for a 100,000 square foot commercial building or plaza, a 350 new home development, a single lot to gift to a child, an expansion of your business or a site plan for a new shopping center or industrial building, we can handle your needs.

  • Variances

Area variances and use variances each require a different level of proof. Often critical to obtaining approval of a project, a variance can only be obtained if the proper information is presented to a Zoning Board of Adjustment. Dilts & Koester has been representing both applicants and Zoning Boards of Appeals for decades. The firm understands the process and knows what needs to be done. Absolutely critical to this process is to present the proper proof and to make a record before the Zoning Board of Adjustment that supports the outcome our client is seeking.

  • Conditional Use Applications

Municipalities often permit “conditional use applications” for specific uses that require compliance with additional specific requirements, such as gasoline stations, car washes and wireless telecommunications facilities. Dilts & Koester is familiar with the criteria necessary to make or review such applications. The firm has represented  both applicants  and  municipalities  in either  making  or reviewing conditional use applications. We have also litigated matters relating to the granting or denial of such permits.

  • Rezoning and Redevelopment

A request to rezone a property before a municipality requires extensive knowledge of the municipal and state land  use laws and ordinances, as well as understanding the political climate at the time of the request. Dilts & Koester has successfully rezoned properties for clients.  In the process, the firm made the result a win-win situation for the client and the municipality.

A change in the zoning designation of property raises complex issues of property rights as such a zoning change often results in a loss of property value. Municipalities contemplating the rezoning of a parcel and the property owners faced with a rezoning must each act to ensure that the process protects property rights and reflects legitimate governmental interests. Dilts & Koester has assisted property owners in challenging rezoning of their property when the procedural and substantive requirements have not been followed. Whether you are a municipality contemplating the review of local zoning regulations or a property owner caught up in a rezoning process our experienced attorneys can help to ensure the process is fair and adequate.

  • RLUIPA

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) significantly impacts the ability of municipalities to control the establishment of religious uses through zoning and land use regulations.  As  a  result of this  law, any  application  by a  religious organization for a land use approval has the potential to result in a RLUIPA claim. Dilts & Koester is well versed in this complex area of the law and can assist in evaluating applications for potential RLUIPA claims. With the number of RLUIPA lawsuits  increasing, municipalities must be mindful of the pitfalls of RLUIPA and evaluate their actions accordingly. Religious institutions have filed RLUIPA claims against municipalities in situations involving everything from variances and site plans to eminent domain cases. With the potential that substantial damages and attorney’s fees may be awarded to an organization making a successful claim, municipalities must deal with the issue of RLUIPA from the first day a matter involving a religious organization arises. Dilts & Koester . can provide counsel at all stages of the process and has successfully litigated in past.

  • Municipal Law

George Dilts and Anthony Koester have served as the attorneys for Townships and Municipal Boards, Housing Authorities, Planning Boards and Zoning Boards of Adjustments. They have drafted local laws, prepared findings on numerous land use matters, guided clients through the numerous New Jersey Public Laws and regulations and negotiate complex contracts. They have defended and prosecuted numerous lawsuits and appeals on behalf of municipalities including such varied issues as Civil Rights, Zoning, Subdivisions and Site Plans, RLUIPA, Construction Claims and Contracts.

They have decades of experience representing municipal clients. We have been involved in numerous cases involving variances, telecommunications, RLUIPA, subdivisions, rezoning and civil rights claims. They have been recognized for our knowledge in these areas.

  • Representative Clients

Please see our “Clients & Projects” page on our website (button at the top of this page) for a list and photos of representative zoning and land use clients and projects.  Local projects have included:

  • Flemington Car & Truck Country
  • Diamond Nation
  • Clinton Honda
  • HealthQuest
  • Jack Cust Baseball School
  • Hunterdon Storage
  • Shammy Shine Car Wash
  • Flemington BMW
  • Flemington GM