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He is a savvy land use and real estate attorney who represents clients throughout North Carolina.
John has more than 30 years of experience in land use law and real estate litigation. Based in the Raleigh-Durham region, John practices throughout North Carolina. He represents all types of business clients - developers, end users and land owners - when they attempt to use their land or maximize its value through securing entitlements, forming public-private agreements or handling litigation. Because John represents private clients as well as local governments, he has an understanding of the economic and policy issues which influence governmental officials and private companies. Consequently, he frequently negotiates and drafts specialized agreements and local laws for clients. Building on his land use and zoning practice, John has developed niches in the areas of water regulations which restrict the use of land and complex civil litigation concerning unusual issues and matters of first impression such as historic lighthouses and the limits of local government powers.
Land Use/Zoning John provides comprehensive solutions for all aspects of land use and zoning law problems. Whether a new or existing development, John’s goal is to secure all of the entitlements from local, state and federal agencies needed to enable the client to build its plans. He works to ensure that the entitlements remain in place as long as is legally possible to protect the client’s financial projections from adverse future changes in laws and regulations so that multi-phased developments are successful. His practice includes:
Real Estate Litigation When litigation cannot be avoided, John works with clients to resolve real estate disputes as efficiently and effectively as possible. He represents property owners and developers in zoning and land use litigation; breach of contract and lease disputes; boundary, easement and restrictive covenant issues; complex real estate partnership disputes; and litigation involving lien priority or title issues. His clients include major retail companies, shopping center owners, developers, local governments and commercial landowners. John is a co-author of the North Carolina Land Use Litigator, a blog that digests and analyzes land use legal issues that matter to developers and local governments in North Carolina.
Representative Appellate Cases
Land Use/Development Amward Homes, Inc. v. Town of Cary, (2011)—local government’s power to impose fees for schools.
Cary Creek Ltd. Partnership v. Town of Cary , (2010)—local government’s power to adopt riparian buffers. Cary Creek Ltd. Partnership v. Town of Cary, (2010)—local government’s denial of a variance.
Real Estate Litigation Progress Energy Carolinas, Inc. v. Strickland, (2007)—utility’s power to condemn property. Belverd v. Miles , (2002)—interpretation of restrictive covenants.
Cardinal Extension Co., LLC v. Pleasant, (2002)—jury verdict in condemnation case. Alchemy Communications Corp. v. Preston Development Corp., (2002)—interpretation of long term lease.
Lattimore v. Regency Park Corp., (2000)—surface water liability and imposition of severe sanctions.
Chappell v. Donnelly, 113 N.C. App. 626, 439 S.E.2d 802 (1994).
John C. Cooke, “Defending Substantive Due Process Claims: Law and Practical Observations” (N.C. Association of Municipal Attorneys) (2013);
John C. Cooke, “Public-Private Collaboration and Agreements, and the ‘Tools in the Toolbox’ to Affect Them” (2014 Joint Zoning, Planning & Land Use Section and Government/Public Sector Section Annual Meetings);
John C. Cooke, “Challenging and Appealing an Administrative Zoning Decision”, Practical Guide to Zoning and Land Use Law (National Business Institute) (February 2009);
John C. Cooke and Michael T. Henry, “Analyze The Land Subdivision Process”, Land Use Law: Current Issues in Subdivision, Annexation and Zoning (National Business Institute) (September 2008);
John C. Cooke and Michael C. Thelen, “The North Carolina Development Agreement Law”, A Matter of Perspective: Hot Topics for Land Use and Government/Public Sector Attorneys, North Carolina Bar Association Joint Zoning, Planning and Land Use Section and Government and Public Sector Section Joint Annual Meetings (May 2007);
John C. Cooke and Michael C. Thelen, “Opportunities Created by Recent Legislation for the Land Use Practitioner”, Real Property 2007 (Wake Forest University School of Law Continuing Legal Education) (2007);
John C. Cooke, Garrett R. Perdue and Elizabeth T. Smith, “Land Use Problems”, Kelo and Its Aftermath, North Carolina Bar Association Annual Meeting (June 2006);
John C. Cooke and Christine Carlisle Odom, “Judicial Deference to Land Use Decisions and the Emergence of Single Class Equal Protection Claims”, Environmental Law Reporter (Fall 2000);
John C. Cooke, Christine Carlisle Odom, and Eric M. Braun, “Constitutional Limitations on Local Government Land Use Decisions”, Wake Forest School Law Real Property 2000 Seminar (Fall 2000);
John C. Cooke and Christine Carlisle Odom, “Water Quality Regulations and The use of Land for Real Estate Development: The Current Regulatory Framework and an Outlook for the Future”, North Carolina Bar Association Real Property Annual Meeting (July 2000);
John C. Cooke and Christine Carlisle Odom, “Discrimination and Judicial Deference to Local Government Land Use Decisions”, National Law Journal (October 1999);
“Real Property Litigation”, Real Property (Wake Forest University School of Law Continuing Legal Education) (1990, 1992, 1995, 1999);
“Legal Issues in Obtaining Development Permission”, Real Property (Wake Forest University School of Law Continuing Legal Education) (1995);
“Drafting of Real Estate and Construction Contracts”, Contract Price Manual (Wake Forest University School of Law Continuing Legal Education) (1991);
“Recent Cases and Trends Affecting Real Estate Transactions from an Environmental Perspective”, Real Property Transactions - Avoiding the Legal and Technical Environmental Pitfalls (1988);
“How to Handle a Board of Adjustment Case”, Major Land Use Laws in North Carolina (National Business Institute, Inc.)
Land Use and Zoning Team