Land Use

Land use decisions play an increasingly important role in business planning and are a critical factor to balancing economic growth with environmental sustainability.

Kelley Drye’s land use team provides comprehensive and creative solutions to private and public clients. Our multidisciplinary approach enables us to draw on the experience of attorneys and advisors from a range of legal disciplines, including litigation, environmental, energy, real estate, government contracts and government relations to achieve efficient and cost effective results for our clients.

We represent a variety of industry, governmental and trade association clients in due diligence, planning, permitting, hearings, litigation and appeals relating to land use matters. We consider local, regional and federal policy and political conditions in order to create comprehensive and practical solutions for our clients.


Kelley Drye litigators have argued many of the fundamental constitutional preemption, due process, takings and equal protection land use issues. Our attorneys are knowledgeable about land use matters related to vested rights and property interests. We have tried condemnation and takings cases and have the unique experience of having represented both condemning authorities and private property owners in many different multi-million dollar redevelopment, pipeline and transportation sector matters.

Real Estate/Corporate Environmental

Kelley Drye attorneys have expertise in resolving real estate and environmental regulatory matters, including negotiating and facilitating the purchase, sale, lease and cleanup of environmentally impacted properties. In connection with these transactional matters, we provide expertise in contractual risk allocation, property transfer issues, easement and leasehold negotiations, indemnity and third-party risk transfer protections and the negotiation and administration of property cleanup and remediation agreements. We are adept at incorporating land use planning considerations into site cleanups and remediation agreements, allowing for remedial approaches that can significantly minimize cost.

Endangered Species/Animal Law

When a species is listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act, or Lacey Act without scientific justification, it can severely affect businesses that deal with those species. It can also impact most activities in the location where the species is found. We have successfully defended against regulatory and litigation-based ESA challenges and have sought policy-level changes in the regulatory and legislative arenas.


Opponents of upstream and midstream oil and gas operations, and new transmission lines, have become more aggressive and adept at leveraging land use and permitting laws to block, delay and increase development costs. Kelley Drye’s experience with land use permitting regulations, restrictions and eminent domain laws guide clients through the thicket of sticking points that opponents raise to challenge development projects. In addition, Kelley Drye’s technical understanding of everything from alleged induced seismicity to hydrology inform the strategy to overcome permit contests developers are more frequently encountering.

Government Contracts

We represent clients in a broad range of government contracting matters, including: tariff interpretations and enforcement issues; dredging and dredge material management; United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) regulations and permitting; lease and easement negotiations; emergency response and security measures; and litigation. We have worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, the Office of Management and Budget, and U.S. congressional committees to have navigation improvements federally authorized and funded. Additionally, we have extensive experience representing clients in the Court of Federal Claims and other fora where disputes with the federal government are adjudicated. Finally, we have worked with the commodities industry on permitting and regulatory issues associated with the transportation of commodities on navigable water.

Public-Private Partnerships

Our attorneys use a hands-on approach to work with clients through every stage of the P3 process, including: identifying opportunities at the federal, state, and local levels; counseling clients on structuring, developing and financing P3s; and guiding clients through complex statutory and regulatory schemes applicable to P3s and procurement. Kelley Drye’s expertise includes P3s and procurement in areas including telecommunications, energy privatization and infrastructure.


Kelley Drye’s environmental permitting attorneys have extensive experience in handling the environmental permitting issues required to develop or redevelop property. We can assist clients at every stage of the development process and are especially skilled at handling contested permitting matters, from the application and public notice, through contested hearings and appeals of agency permitting decisions. Our attorneys also have experience in litigating issues in state and federal court that relate to land development and permitting matters, including issues such as due process, subsurface trespass and regulatory takings claims.

Team Members