Texas Land Use Law Experience

Our Houston Land Use Law attorneys have experience in the following:

Planned Development District
Represented a regional developer in the successful rezoning of an existing non-conforming apartment complex to the first Planned Development District in a Houston area general law city. Density approved was 3 times the allowed density in multi-family districts and more than 1/3 over the existing density.

Traffic/Vested Rights
Represented developer denied permits for high density residential development adjacent to high end single family residential neighborhoods due to alleged violation of driveway/traffic regulations. Ensured that the city could not adopt new driveway/traffic regulations applicable to the project due to the project’s vested rights.

Sale of Damaged Condominium Complex
Represented Condominium Association in the sale of the entire complex over the objection of some unit owners. Creatively addressed deficiencies in the Condominium Declaration and the applicable Condominium Act (1st generation) in a situation where modification of the Condominium Declaration was not possible. Assisted in contentious litigation with objecting owners.

Vested Rights
Represented a developer whose planned residential neighborhood become non-conforming after a Texas home rule municipality adopted zoning and made the project non-conforming. Obtained a vested rights determination on zoning and plat approval for a modified plat providing for phasing.

Condominium to Townhouse Conversion
Assisted developer with partially constructed condominium project to convert future phases to townhouse to take advantage of more readily available financing for townhouse units compared to condominium units. Handled interaction with city officials to obtain support for needed variances.

Board of Adjustment
Represented owner of medical office building/surgical center which violated zoning setback due to freeway condemnation and the city demanded be removed. Obtained 3 of 5 votes from Board of Adjustment to permit the encroachment to remain despite the fact the owner received a condemnation award equal to the full value of the building (as a “total taking”). Settled subsequent litigation and the building (with the encroaching portion removed) remains today as the location of the owner’s medical practice.

Non-Conforming Use/Adaptive Re-Use
Represented owner of old automotive garage being redeveloped as a restaurant/urban grocer/neighborhood gathering place in an exclusive Houston area zoned home rule city. Resolved numerous non-compliances and obtained necessary variances.

Neighbors Opposing City Hall
Represented neighbors opposing a well known West Houston enclave community (general law city) in the establishment of its city hall in a large single family house on their street. Organized citizen opposition (seen on TV) and the City Council Public Hearing had to be moved to a parking lot to accommodate the opponents. The house was sold.

Street Abandonment/Pad Creation
Represented buyer of Power Center which lost extensive freeway frontage (including several buildings) to create a valuable Financial Institution pad site on the hard corner of a major intersection which included the abandonment of a vestige street, relocation of utilities and coordination with major street widening. As a result, land with no utility became very valuable.

Redevelopment of Single Family House as High Rise
Assisted in litigation of land owners' disputes over developer client’s redevelopment of a vestige single family house in a high density Houston area high rise development for a high rise apartment complex. Adjacent high rise office building owners unsuccessfully sought to prevent the development to protect their view corridors and eliminate perceived traffic issues.

Street Abandonment/Power Center
Represented developer in the elimination of public streets (actual) and rights of way (platted, but never constructed) from a residential single family neighborhood it blocked up to be re-developed for a retail power center. Obtained the abandonment of the platted, but never constructed streets for no compensation, arguing that the dedication in the plat was never accepted.

City Representation on Golf Course Re-development
Represented a mid sized Texas suburban city in obtaining development review rights for threatened golf course conversion. An out of state hedge fund purchased a golf course in an established master planned residential neighborhood and threatened to convert it to moderate and lower income housing. Drafted and obtained approval of changes to State Platting law to provide the City review rights to future golf course conversions.

Water District Representation in Condemnation
Co-counseled the largest Water District in Texas in condemnation litigation relating to a golf course being acquired for water quality and drainage needs.

City Representation in 1000 acre rezoning and Development Agreement
Represented a mid sized Texas Coastal home rule city in the negotiations with a national land developer over rezoning the largest undeveloped tract on a barrier island. The City required knowledgeable representation for a unique in-city development agreement to address public interest issues over a 20 year development horizon.

Historic Neighborhoods
Represented historic neighborhood (established 1893 and once a separate city) in resolving significant problems in its program to adopt private restrictive covenants. Drafted and orchestrated the adoption of Texas Property Code Chapter 208 to provide a legislative fix for difficult legal and practical problems.

Pipeline
Represented a National Pipeline Company in a zoning dispute with a home rule city. Addressed the issues of preemption of certain aspects of zoning law and municipal regulations due to federal/state regulation and the concept that private enterprises with the power of eminent domain are exempt from zoning regulation. Performed nationwide research on the issue of regulation of utilities and public service corporations by municipalities (primarily through exercise of zoning) including analogous uses such as railroads and electrical transmission lines.

Industrial Recycling Facility
Represented a large scrap metal recycling facility owned by a publicly traded NYSE Corporation in a substantial expansion/modernization of the facility despite municipal regulation precluding such activities. Addressed complicated grand fathering issues and concerns under the current municipal ordinance. Obtained revision of the municipal ordinance regulating the facility with provisions which would allow modernization/ expansion. Obtained the required planning commission approval for the modernization/expansion after the municipal ordinance was revised to provide planning commission authority to do so. Addressed complicated development problems relating to ancient title.

Assisted Living
Represented a national, publicly traded, assisted living company in rezoning a site in an exclusive residential community in order to allow construction of a seventy (70) bed assisted living center. Negotiated acquisition of an unused street right of way necessary for the development.

Comprehensive Resolution of Municipal Issues
Represented a national real estate lender in resolving numerous municipal law problems relating to a significant retail project and adjacent development land. These issues related to drainage, zoning, platting, street alignments, dedication of right-of-way for street and drainage improvements, and a revised sign ordinance which would grandfather a major pylon sign. Drafted a receptacle easement agreement to facilitate sale of a portion of an existing parking lot as a pad site. Placed the owner in a position where it could realize value by selling assets with resolved municipal problems and with a premium created due to working with an otherwise difficult home rule city. Before resolution, the assets, particularly the development land, would have sold at "fire sale" prices due to the reputation of the city and the tangle of land use issues.

Non-Conforming Partially Constructed Phased Condominium
Facilitated rezoning and replatting a failed, partially constructed, phased condominium project located in a home rule municipality. The project was a non-conforming use due to zoning changes after commencement of construction in the mid 1980's. Without the zoning change, substantial portions of the vacant land intended for subsequent phases of the project would have no value. Successfully negotiated rezoning to facilitate the completion of the project as originally contemplated. Coordinated curative replatting necessary to eliminate violations of the state subdivision statute and municipal subdivision ordinance due to previous conveyances by metes and bounds of townhouse units.

Commission and Board Presentations
Made numerous presentations before planning commissions, planning and zoning commissions and zoning boards of adjustment on various zoning, variance special exception and interpretation issues, including curative variances necessary for purchase and sale transactions and lending transactions.

Economic Development
Represented national retailer in economic development incentives in Texas and Oklahoma for “big box” development. Incentives included sales tax sharing, property tax sharing, infrastructure provided to serve the project, grants for facade upgrades, expedited approvals, confirmations of development regulations interpretations and approvals.

Dangerous Buildings
Successfully represented owners in dealing with dangerous building ordinances thereby preserving owner equity and allowing a reasonable opportunity to repair/upgrade/reconstruct deficient buildings.

Life Safety
Dealt with difficult Life Safety issues under City of Houston Building Code, dealing with the building official's office and the City of Houston Building and Standards Commission to obtain variances.

Electrical Board
Represented an industry group before the City of Houston Electrical Board on an issue of interpretation which would require substantially more expensive light fixtures in hotels and other multiple occupancy buildings.

Deed Restriction Modification- TX. Prop. Code Chap. 204
Represented an upscale residential neighborhood in one of the first applications of Texas Property Code Chapter 204 for the purposes of adopting residential deed restrictions without an opt-out option. Have utilized Chapter 204 on numerous occasions.

Consolidation of Neighborhood Deed Restrictions
Represented a residential neighborhood in the consolidation of four (4) separately platted subdivisions into a unified property owner's association with consistent deed restrictions.

Deed Restriction Modification TX. Prop. Code Chap. 201
Provided advice to several residential subdivisions regarding the application of Texas Property Code Chapter 201, including challenges to adopted deed restrictions based on various deficiencies in the adoption process.

Property Owner Associations
Representation of several residential neighborhoods as advisor to the Property Owner's Association and its board of directors on ongoing matters including deed restriction interpretation, board of director procedure, architectural review committee procedure, assessment collection, deed restriction enforcement and general advice. Have served as special counsel to several owners’ associations to solve difficult land use problems.

Deed Restriction Disputes
Litigated numerous deed restriction matters in both residential and commercial contexts. Provide interpretation as expert for disputes.

Condominium
Reviewed, drafted and modified Condominium Declarations under Texas Uniform Condominium Act.

Development Documentation
Drafted deed restrictions, reciprocal easement agreements, various development related easements, party wall agreements and related development agreements for residential and commercial developments.

Contact Us

2500 Fannin Street
Houston, Texas 77002

Office: 713.222.9000
Fax: 713.229.8824

info@wcglaw.com