Dino La Fiandra, Partner, PK Law (second from right) was among the presenters at The Daily Record’s Real Estate Matters conference, held recently at the BWI Hilton. Also pictured are (left to right) Michael Leaf, PK Law; Judy Borns, Residential Title & Escrow Company Law; Terry Anne Hearn, Residential Title & Escrow Company and Benjamin Polakoff, Polakoff Sefret, LLC.
La Fiandra stressed that a real estate investor should engage a land use attorney in the real estate investment process “as soon as possible and definitely before committing to purchasing the property or project.” He added that “attorneys can provide expert advice on parameters including zoning, size requirements for proposed uses, assist in the due diligence process and explain regulatory risks. The attorneys can also execute the approval strategy including completing filing applications, meeting with regulators, present plans to community groups and represent the client at appropriate hearings.”
Land use and zoning attorneys are typically engaged to navigate regulatory constraints, development and environmental regulations, historical preservation and architectural requirements issues. “If anything beyond a building permit is needed, such as zoning or development approval, a land use attorney should be involved in contract preparation,” La Fiandra explained. “It is important to plan for the time needed to gain approvals and advise on contingencies and conditions,” he added.
The panel, entitled “Investing in Maryland Real Estate,” was moderated by Tina Beliveau, Keller Williams Legacy and included Jason Balin, Hard Money Bankers; Matthew Mullen, Chesapeake Bank of Maryland; Dino La Fiandra of PK Law and Benjamin Polakoff, Polakoff Sefret, LLC.
“Investors should be aware of and cautious about zoning and land use development issues that arise at the last minute to potentially derail a project or intended improvement or addition,” La Fiandra continued. “This could be caused by the voices of a local community group or an appeal that could potentially change the entire direction of the project. For instance, on a residential project, if the owner wanted to make exterior renovations to a building or add a pool and pool house to an existing home, it is important to check height restrictions, research proper setbacks and, generally, check to make sure your concept conforms all necessary parameters. Commercial jobs present a host of other issues also, like environmental issues, traffic issues, and sometimes political issues. The bottom line is to make sure you have the approval to execute your intended plan.”
Lisa Porter, Stewart Title; Megan Richardson, Richardson Lagrant Group; Wendy Lagrant, Richardson Lagrant Group; Chi Yan, The Chi Team at Keller Williams Legacy Metropolitan; and Roxanne Wiley, Keller Williams Legacy Metropolitan