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Real Estate Lawyer Explains Real Estate, Land Use and Zoning Law

Effective representation in real estate law, as well as land use and zoning law, requires knowledge of state codes and local ordinances. It also requires familiarity with the complex technical issues in development. Joseph A. Russo, Esq. at Uscher, Quiat, Uscher & Russo, P.C., has the experience to represent clients on both sides of the table in New Jersey and New York — developers as well as municipal boards.

Experienced Counsel In Planning And Zoning

Serving New York and New Jersey, land use, zoning, and real estate lawyer Joseph Russo offers more than 40 years of experience in real estate law as well as land use and zoning law. He spent much of that time as a Municipal Planning Board attorney. Joe can analyze a problem from the point of view of either the applicant or the local board. This unique perspective enables UQUR to advise clients on the most likely outcome of an application. Such an opinion can be priceless when the client is facing major expenditures for architects and engineers for plans, site surveys, topographic and the other site information required for the project to proceed.

New Jersey And New York Real Estate Law, Land Use Law And Zoning Law:

Particular familiarity with land use law helps Joe ease obstacles for landowners in commercial and residential development. In addition, it helps him to advise local officials on the interpretation or drafting of planning and zoning ordinances. A municipality’s zoning ordinance provides the blueprint for development. Our firm serves clients primarily in the following categories:

Site Plan

New Jersey law requires site plans for new construction (for example, a residential development, office building, or shopping center). The law also requires site plans when renovations enlarge the footprint of the existing building. You must submit site plan applications to the municipality’s planning board for approval.


A subdivision application involves dividing one or more larger lots into smaller lots. Subdivided lots must conform to the municipality’s ordinance specifying minimum lot dimensions in the zone where the property is located. For example, you can divide a five-acre lot into five individual lots of one acre each. This is provided the zoning ordinance permits one-acre zoning in that zone. If the applicable zoning required two acres or more, the board could not approve the five individual lots unless they grant the applicant a variance for smaller lots. Applications to subdivide property are also made before the planning board.

Bulk Variances

Bulk variances are required when a building encroaches upon the bulk (setback) requirements for the lot as required by the zoning ordinance. For example, the zoning ordinance may require that a building or house have a minimum setback of 75 feet from the front property line. Building a home closer than the 75-foot setback would require a bulk variance. Variance applications are usually made to the zoning board of adjustment unless the application requires a site plan. (If so, the planning board would review the application, as it has authority to grant both site plan approval and a variance).

Permitted Use Variances

The law requires a use variance when a property owner intends to utilize his property for a use not permitted under that municipality’s zoning ordinance. For example, let’s say an applicant’s property is zoned residential. They intend to knock down their house and build an office building. The prohibited use would require a permitted use variance. One would have to submit use variance applications to the board of adjustment. A simple majority of the board members must cast affirmative votes for the resolution to pass. The majority is usually five out of nine members.


Uscher, Quiat, Uscher & Russo also represents developers, landowners and municipal boards in efforts to have specific property or sections of a city or township rezoned. Real estate law expert Joe Russo guides clients through the many steps of the process. This process may include public hearings and even environmental studies.


If the board turned down your site plan, subdivision or variance application, the experienced litigators of UQUR can represent you in appealing the decision to the full municipal council or in litigation in state court.

Contact A Seasoned  Real Estate Lawyer

Contact our office today to discuss your planning board, zoning board, or board of adjustment matter with an experienced New Jersey and New York real estate lawyer. Uscher, Quiat, Uscher & Russo responds promptly to phone calls. We also clients informed of all developments. You will receive copies or summaries of all documents and correspondence. Call Uscher, Quiat, Uscher & Russo for a free of cost initial phone consultation – 201-781-5645.