Law of the Land

With real estate development booming once again in South Florida, the need has never been greater for top land use legal talent. To meet and exceed the needs of entrepreneurial developers, the law firm of Tripp Scott has created one of the few legal practices devoted to land use in the state.

Headed by Stephanie Toothaker and Wilson Atkinson, Tripp Scott’s team has extensive experience helping clients navigate the complex issues and laws governing land use and development. The team, which includes Jordana Jarjura, Ed Pozzuoli, Dan Taylor and Matt Scott, has proven expertise over time in the volatile Florida real estate market.

“A client comes to us with a piece of dirt and a vision, but they likely don’t know whether the applicable codes allow them to build it,” says Atkinson, who secured government approvals and financing for the high profile, public/private partnership project Margaritaville on Hollywood Beach, which is set to open in September. “We work with them through every step of the process to create good development that survives time as a success. This means a return on investment and a project the community can be proud of.”

Tripp Scott’s land use practice succeeds because the attorneys working within it have a unique understanding of how what they do is at the intersection of business and politics, explains Toothaker, whose clients include Marina Lofts and Lionheart Capital. She notes that her team understands land use issues from the property owner, developer and government perspectives, and have specific expertise focused on developments of regional impact, land use plan amendments, zoning modifications, and site plan approvals – including allocation of flex and reserve units. 

Effectively navigating related issues requires working with an exemplary knowledge of the law, Toothaker says, in addition to obtaining consensus for projects from surrounding communities and government officials. Tripp Scott’s land use team is particularly adept at this often complex process. 

“It is essential for us to broker consensus,” says Atkinson. “These situations should not be dealt with in court if at all possible. Understanding what works for both developers and government officials prevents this from happening.”

Some of the team attorneys actually serve as government officials. For example, Jarjura is Deputy Vice Mayor of Delray Beach.

“Very often, the city, county and state codes aren’t clear regarding what can be built or the codes don’t tell the entire picture. We know how important it is to understand what is realistic for approval and how to get that done,” says Toothaker.

Because land use matters often demand the expertise in specialized and related areas of the law, Tripp Scott’s team often works with members of the firm’s governmental affairs, environmental, litigation, finance and other practice areas to provide clients with a full range of legal services. 

This depth of talent is augmented by Tripp Scott’s depth of influence in Florida’s political arena. One of the firm’s founders, James A. Scott, is a former member of the state legislature. He represented the Florida State Senate in the 2002 state redistricting plan – along with related federal and state litigation – and served as local counsel in the Florida election recount of 2000.

“We are passionate about bringing valuable projects from concept to reality,” says Toothaker. “We have the privilege of doing this again and again for truly exceptional clients.” ?

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