Zoning – Planning – Land Use Law

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Callaghan & Callaghan relies on detailed preparation, exceptional oral advocacy, and legal expertise to win approval for land use development projects.

Callaghan & Callaghan’s attorneys, Matthew F. Callaghan, Jr., and James M. Callaghan, provide expert advice and counsel in all zoning, planning, and land use matters. We intimately understand the process – from initial consultations to pre-applications to applications to hearing. Our practical and effective approach brings together planners, zoning officials, experts, and clients to achieve superior results.

Callaghan & Callaghan’s attorneys strategize with engineers, traffic engineers, zoning officials, and land use planners to create proposals designed for approval by municipal and state boards. We provide the necessary technical acumen and legal expertise in every zoning, planning, and land use matter.

We have successfully advocated for variances, subdivisions, small scale – large scale commercial, residential, and mixed-use land development projects. Every Rhode Island municipality has its own unique set of regulations – codified via ordinances. Callaghan & Callaghan has represented families and businesses before local councils, planning boards, and zoning boards, as well as state agencies and regulators throughout Rhode Island.

Callaghan & Callaghan’s advice, counsel, and practical approach has been instrumental in winning approval for hundreds of projects across the state.

Planning Boards

In many instances, a planning board reviews and approves subdivision proposals, planned business districts, commercial and industrial site plans, planned village developments, planned unit developments and other multi-unit or single family developments. A planning board may also review and update zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, and comprehensive plans. In some communities a planning board makes recommendations to the town council on proposed zoning ordinances and zoning map amendments.

Zoning Boards

Communities utilize zoning boards to hear appeals from administrative officers or agencies, grant dimensional variances, variances, and special use permits, and hear other matters or issues that may fall in its jurisdiction based on the zoning ordinance or statute.

Variances, Dimensional Variances, and Special Use Permits


Municipal ordinances regulate land use law in Rhode Island.

Often a homeowner, business owner, or developer must apply for a variance, dimensional variance, or a special use permit to fully utilize or improve a parcel or property. Callaghan & Callaghan has effectively helped clients gain approval for applications across Rhode Island. These applications often involve communications with municipal planning departments for pre-application consultation. In addition, Callaghan & Callaghan has forged long standing contacts within the engineering, planning, architectural, and design fields to make sure that any application is fully vetted and prepared for submission, review, and hearing.

Property Transactions

Callaghan & Callaghan also has extensive experience in all real estate transactions.  We provide expert legal advice and counsel in all property matters:

  • Commercial Property Transactions and Acquisitions
  • Residential Home Transactions – Closings
  • Condominium Law – Goverance, Associations,
  • Landlord Tenant Disputes
  • Title Disputes
  • Tax Appeals

Recent Successes in Real Estate Law

Eviction – Landlord / Tenant – February 2017 – Washington County

A landlord came to Callaghan & Callaghan with an eviction matter. The tenant had failed to pay any rent for a number of months. The first eviction attempt utilizing another law office did not work out. Callaghan & Callaghan picked up the pieces of the case and successfully tried the case before a judge.

Zoning – Land Use – Fall 2016

Our attorneys helped a client plan, apply, negotiate and advocate for a new local development. The proposal included wide ranging zoning issues. The application attracted attention from municipal leaders, town staff, abutters, and local citizens. Through effective preparation and argument, the proposal won universal approval.

Real Estate Dispute – Regulatory Appeal – Riparian Rights – 2016

A new client approached Callaghan & Callaghan with a multi-faceted issue. Years earlier they had constructed a residential boating facility (dock) off their South County property. Unbeknownst to them, the dock had been constructed at an incorrect angle. The error did not arise until their neighbor sought to construct their own dock.

Commercial Transaction – Purchase and Sale, Asset Purchase Agreement, and Closing – December 2015

A Callaghan & Callaghan client recently closed on a multi-million dollar transaction. Our client purchased a very valuable longstanding business with a substantial client base. Callaghan & Callaghan assisted their client in all aspects of the deal.

Regulatory Appeal – November 2015

Callaghan & Callaghan’s attorneys recently won a hard fought regulatory appeal for a South County client. At numerous times in the litigation, Callaghan & Callaghan was informed by opposing government counsel that their case was hopeless. Callaghan & Callaghan’s review of the applicable statutes and regulations unearthed both due process and administrative issues.