Wisconsin Land Use Litigation

Southeastern Wisconsin provides a unique blend of urban, residential, rural, lake, farm, recreational, country, business and commercial land uses. The land that encompasses Rock, Jefferson, Kenosha, Racine, Walworth and Waukesha counties is among the most valuable and diverse in the United States. Centrally located in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C., have been helping clients successfully resolve all sorts of complex real estate and property rights disputes for over 90 years.

The right to own or use real property is conferred in a variety of ways, including fee title ownership, lease and rent agreements, condominium ownership, riparian rights, easements, life estates, trusts, remainder interests, joint tenancies, tenancies in common and time shares. Our clients include owners and developers of hotels and resorts, golf courses, shopping centers, retailers, office buildings, condominium associations, residential subdivision developers, industrial and commercial businesses, lakefront property owners and individual property owners.

Walworth County is home to many beautiful lakes, including Geneva Lake, Delavan Lake, the Lauderdale Lakes, Lake Beulah, Pleasant Lake and Whitewater Lake to name a few. Disputes regarding the use and ownership of such valuable lakefront property often involve the right to own and maintain piers, docks and wharves. We have extensive experience in establishing and protecting lake rights and riparian rights through both the Wisconsin court system and administrative agency hearings. We represent clients dealing with municipal and governmental attempts to regulate lake rights, through pier head ordinances, lot line setback regulations, boat slip and pier permitting requirements. We have represented clients in hundreds of pier and lake rights cases before the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and in state courts across Wisconsin. These cases sometimes involve issues such as the application of the Knitter method for apportionment of lake and riparian rights.

In Wisconsin, citizens have the right to use and enjoy navigable waters. Riparian owners of land bordering rivers, lakes and streams have certain rights concerning the use and access to the water and shoreline of their property. Our attorneys have the training and experience necessary to help protect those rights.

Governmental attempts to regulate property rights and land use often unfairly impact our clients. Municipal decisions relating to Wisconsin's "Smart Growth" comprehensive planning legislation, for example, can unduly foreclose the full use and future development of land. We have successfully challenged the "Smart Growth" and related municipal land use decisions through hard work, experience, preparation and aggressive representation of our clients.

Municipal zoning, rezones and conditional use permit rules and decisions also affect the right to fully use and develop property. We have litigated hundreds of cases involving these issues and are not afraid to vigorously and aggressively challenge local municipal boards and commissions in lawsuits before judges and juries.

Our real estate lawyers have assisted property owner associations and condominium unit owner associations in the enforcement of rules and restrictive covenants governing the use of land by individual association members and unit owners. Boundary and fence line disputes are common problems many of our clients face. These range from cases where trees, buildings and other improvements encroach upon neighboring property, to instances involving groundwater contamination caused by the hazardous use of adjoining land. We also handle environmental and toxic waste cleanup litigation, title and title insurance disputes, eminent domain and inverse condemnation lawsuits.

Our firm has mounted constitutional challenges to the unfair attempts of cities, villages and towns to impose unconstitutional restrictions on the rights of property owners. We have successfully resolved such land use disputes in both state and federal courts.

Real estate mortgage foreclosure actions have become an unfortunate consequence of recent difficult economic times. We provide the knowledgeable, tenacious and innovative representation needed to guide our clients through the foreclosure process.

We are Wisconsin's real property, real estate and land use dispute litigation law firm. Contact us today to discuss your land use and property rights issues.