Susan L. Trevarthen

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Susan handles land use, planning and zoning matters for governments and is a municipal attorney. Her work includes negotiating development agreements and approvals, drafting municipal codes and plans, advising municipal staffs, managers and attorneys, defending challenges to municipal regulations and decisions, handling public hearings and counseling elected officials, as well as advocating for municipalities on legislative issues in her field. She serves as Town Attorney.  She also serves as the Chair of our Public Land Use and Zoning Group, which handles all of the land use matters for the Cities of Cooper City, Weston, Miramar, Aventura, North Bay Village, and Homestead; the Towns of Cutler Bay and Lauderdale-By-The-Sea; and the Villages of Bal Harbour, Key Biscayne and Islamorada.  The Group also provides outside counsel services on planning, zoning and land use matters to additional South Florida cities on an as needed basis.  In recent years, these cities have included Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Sunrise, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Coconut Creek, Dania Beach, Cape Coral, Coral Gables and Miami Springs.

Susan's practice includes extensive constitutional law in her field, including regulatory taking cases and land use and zoning decisions raising First Amendment issues, including sign codes, adult use regulations, and regulation of religious uses, Harris Act claims, comprehensive plan challenges and petitions for certiorari.

Susan also has extensive experience with school planning and facilities issues and mandatory school concurrency, and she has represented local governments and school boards across the state on these issues.

Susan has held leadership positions in The Florida Bar’s Section for Environmental and Land Use Law and Section for City, County and Local Government Law.  She has been recognized as one of the top land use attorneys in the state in publications such as Florida Trend Magazine and Superlawyers, and she has an AV rating (highest attainable) from Martindale Hubbell. A member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and Board Certified in City, County and Local Government Law by The Florida Bar, Susan speaks and publishes frequently on planning, zoning and land use issues.  Susan grew up in Boca Raton, Florida.

Significant Matters

Regulation of First Amendment-protected land uses

  • Updated and revised regulations of signs for City of Sunrise after it was challenged, and resulting regulations were upheld by the Eleventh Circuit.
  • Updated and revised regulation of signs for City of Miramar and, successfully defended the sign regulations in the Southern District of Florida.
  • Working with the Litigation Group, and successfully defended the City of Boca Raton's sign regulations in the Southern District of Florida.
  • Updated and revised regulations of signs for City of Weston and Pasco County, without challenge.
  • Part of consultant team revising City of Coconut Creek sign code.
  • Revising sign code in Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.
  • Updated and revised regulations of sexually oriented businesses in City of Dania Beach, changed the zoning districts in which they are located, established an amortization requirement for nonconforming locations, and assisted the City and its insurer in successfully enforcing the amortization requirement against three existing, nonconforming locations.
  • Updated and revised regulations of sexually oriented businesses in the City of Hallandale Beach, and worked with litigation practice group to defended two challenges related to the prior regulations.
  • Updated and revised regulations of sexually oriented businesses for Villages of Wellington and Islamorada, and the Cities of Miramar, Sunrise, and Boca Raton, without challenge.
  • Updated and revised regulations of places of public assembly, and working with the litigation practice group and the Town's insurer to defend Town of Surfside from challenge to the application of those regulations.
  • Updated and revised regulations of places of public assembly in Cities of Cooper City, Sunrise, Miramar, Dania Beach, and Weston, without challenge.
  • Drafted and advised on the implementation of targeted moratoria for various purposes in the Cities of Homestead, Hollywood and Hallandale Beach, without challenge.
Zoning Districts and Supplemental Regulations
  • Developed Planned Unit Development regulations for the Cities of Homestead and Sunrise.
  • Developed commercial design guidelines and special zoning districts for neighborhood plans in the City of Homestead.
  • Developed specialty business zoning districts and regulations for hotels in the Cities of Dania Beach, Sunrise and Miramar.
  • Advised on Joint Land Use Study, developed updated aircraft compatibility regulations and developed vested rights process for City of Homestead in relation to Air Reserve Base.
  • Advised on changes to and implementation of regulations of agricultural uses in the City of Parkland, represented the City staff in related code enforcement matters, and worked with City's insurer to defend a challenge to the application of its regulations to an agricultural use.
  • Developed quasi-judicial hearing procedures for our municipalities.
  • Worked with Village staff to develop and defend regulations of vacation rental properties and formula retail development in the Village of Islamorada, and draft vacation rental regulations for Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.
  • Drafted noise regulations for City of Sunrise and Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.
  • Advised City staff on the development of the first land development codes following incorporation in Villages of Islamorada and Key Biscayne, Cities of Aventura and Weston, and Towns of Cutler Bay and Miami Lakes.
  • Part of consulting team that rewrote the City of Dania Beach Land Development Code.
  • Review and advise on the implementation and updating of impact fee ordinances in all of the Firm’s municipalities, including an affordable housing linkage fee in the City of Coconut Creek and Village of Islamorada, a transit impact fee for the City of Aventura, and police, public works and parks fees for the City of Homestead.

Comprehensive Plans

  • Advised the City of Sunrise, and participate in the comprehensive plan amendment process for Tao residential high-rise development, Metropica Transit-Oriented Development, and Westerra Local Activity Center.
  • Advised the City of Coconut Creek on the Regional Activity Center for the MainStreet development.
  • Advised City staff on the development of the first comprehensive plans or plan amendments following incorporation in the Villages of Islamorada and Key Biscayne, the Cities of Aventura, Marathon and Weston, and the Towns of Cutler Bay and Miami Lakes.
  • Advised all municipal clients on Evaluation and Appraisal Reports and related plan amendments, and other plan amendments necessary to implement new State mandates including school concurrency, water supply planning, and greenhouse gas reduction.
  • Advised the City of Sunrise in the development and implementation of the Western Sunrise Area plan and land development regulations from 1995 to present.
  • Advised the City of Homestead on the adoption of neighborhood plans for redeveloping areas of the City.
  • Advised the Department of Community Affairs as part of the consulting team preparing technical assistance documents for the implementation of school concurrency, including a model concurrency management system and model proportionate share agreement for school facilities (see http://www.dca.state.fl.us/fdcp/dcp/SchoolPlanning/index.cfm).
  • Advised the pilot communities in Sarasota County and Walton County on the implementation of school concurrency, including drafting and review of all pilot deliverables, including the public school facilities element and the school interlocal agreement (see http://www.dca.state.fl.us/fdcp/dcp/SchoolPlanning/pilot.cfm).
  • Drafted school interlocal agreements, reviewed public school facilities elements, and advised on the implementation of school concurrency for Cities of Sunrise, Miramar, Weston, Dania Beach and Hallandale Beach and the Collier County School Board.
  • Represented the Miami-Dade School Concurrency Task Force in its development of a recommended approach to school concurrency, and represented the Miami-Dade County School Board in its negotiations with Miami-Dade County over the school interlocal agreement, and related to implementation of school concurrency.
  • Advised City of Cooper City on issues with proposed public school boundary changes and assisted in developing alternatives.
  • Advised Town of Miami Lakes and the Cities of Homestead and Sunrise on issues with review and approval of charter school facilities.
  • Advised the City and participated in the DRI review process for the creation or amendment of DRIs for Sawgrass Mills, the Broward County Civic Arena (the BankAtlantic Center), Amerifirst/Metropica/Tao, Sawgrass International Corporate Park, and Harrison Park/Westerra in the City of Sunrise.
  • Advised the City and participated in DRI review process for implementation and amendment of the Villages of Homestead in the City of Homestead. 
  • Also developed new zoning districts, comprehensive plan amendments, development agreements and other associated approvals for these projects.
  • Represented municipal staff or governing bodies for contested quasi-judicial hearing in cities including Parkland, Weston, Hallandale Beach, Miramar, Deerfield Beach, Sunrise and North Bay Village. 
  • Advised our municipalities and defended challenges including projects such as the proposed SuperTarget and WalMart stores in the City of Miramar, the redevelopment of the Sonesta Beach Resort in the Village of Key Biscayne, the redevelopment of the Boca Beach Club at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, and various development decisions for the Village of Islamorada.

Certifications and Specialties

  • The Florida Bar Board Certified, City, County and Local Government Law

Memberships

  • American Planning Association
  • American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)
  • Citizens for a Scenic Florida, Board of Directors Vice President
  • Florida Bar Section of Environmental and Land Use Law
  • Florida Bar Section of City, County and Local Government Law

Publications

  • "Best Practices in First Amendment Land Use Regulations," Planning and Environmental Law, Volume 51, 2009
  • "Perspectives on the 2009 Growth Management Legislation" and "Municipal Perspectives on Senate Bill 360, Version 2.0," The Florida Bar Journal, Volume 83, No. 9, October 2009
  • "Senate Bill 360 Refined: The Impact of the 2007 Legislative Session on Local Government Growth Management, Part I," The Florida Bar Journal, Co-Author with Michelle Vos and Chad Friedman, Volume 81, Number 10, 2007.
  • "Senate Bill 360 Refined: The Impact of the 2007 Legislative Session on Local Government Growth Management, Part II," The Florida Bar Journal, Co-Author with Michelle Vos and Chad Friedman, Volume 81, Number 11, 2007.
  • "Senate Bill 360: Growth Management Reform Arrives and It Is All About Infrastructure," (Co-Author), The Florida Bar Journal, Volume 79, No. 9, October 2005
  • "Advising the Client Regarding Protection of Property Rights: Harris Act and Inverse Condemnation Claims," The Florida Bar Journal, Volume LXXXVIII, No. 7, July/August 2004
  • "Alternatives to Takings: Procedural Due Process, Equal Protection and State Law Doctrine in Taking Sides on Takings Issues: The Public and Private Perspectives," ABA, Roberts, Thomas Ed., 2001
  • Special Editor, "Inverse Condemnation and Impact Fees Chapters," Florida Environmental and Land Use Law, February 2001
  • "Florida Supreme Court Decides That Comprehensive Plan Amendments are Legislative,"Florida Planning, May/June, 1997
  • "Defensible Exactions After Nollan v. California Coastal Commission and Dolan v. City of Tigard" (Co-Author), XXV Stetson Law Review

Presentations

  • "School Concurrency Unplugged," APA Florida Conference, September 2013
  • "The Politics of Sustainability," Sustainable Zoning and Development Controls, Planners Training Service, American Planning Association, 2011
  • "Planning in the Courts, Senate Bill 360 Challenge," 9th Annual APA Florida Public Policy Workshop, 2011
  • "Regulating Political Signs and Speech - Strategies for Local Governments Responding to First Amendment and Land Use Challenges," Strafford Webinar with Interactive Q&A, 2010
  • "Regulating First Amendment Land Uses," National Conference of the American Planning Association, New Orleans 2010 and Boston 2011
  • "Unfunded Mandates and the Constitutional Challenge to Senate Bill 360," Florida On-Line Academy on Planning & Growth Topics, 2009
  • "The Local Government Attorney’s Guide to Successful Regulation of First Amendment Land Uses," Florida Municipal Attorneys’ Association, 2009 and City, County and Local Government Law Section of the Florida Bar,  Orlando 2009
  • "School Concurrency," 25th Annual Growth Management, Energy, Climate Change, and the Environment Short Course, Florida Chamber of Commerce, 2009
  • "Issues in Implementing the Harris Act," Eminent Domain Committee, The Florida Bar, 2005
  • "What Local Governments Can Do About School Overcrowding," City, County and Local Government Law Section of The Florida Bar, Orlando 2004

Classes Taught

  • Adjunct Professor, Environmental and Growth Management Law, Florida Atlantic University, Department of Public Administration, 1992 - 1993

Professional Associations

  • The Florida Bar, City, County and Local Government Section Executive Council
  • The Florida Bar, Environmental and Land Use Law Section Executive Council
  • American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)
  • City of Boca Raton Environmental Advisory Board, 1994-2000
  • Vice President and Board of Directors, Citizens for a Scenic Florida Mezzo-Soprano Master Chorale of South Florida/Florida Philharmonic Orchestra
  • The City of Boca Raton Environmental Advisory Board, 1994 - 2000

Reported Cases

  • Restigouche v. Town of Jupiter, 845 F. Supp. 1540 (S.D. Fla. 1993)
  • Schumacher v. Town of Jupiter, 643 So. 2d 8 (Fla. 4th DCA 1994)
  • Section 28 Partnership, Ltd. v. Martin County, 676 So. 2d 532 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996)
  • Woodrow Kantner, Trustee, Carolyn Weaver & YMCA v. Martin County, 929 F. Supp. 1482 (S.D. Fla. 1993)
  • Town of Jupiter v. Michele Alexander, 747 So. 2d 395 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998)
  • MediaNet of South Florida, Inc. v. City of Miramar, Case No. 03cv61689 (S.D. Fla. 2002)
  • Florida Outdoor Advertising, LLC v. City of Boca Raton, 266 F. Supp. 2d 1376 (S.D. Fla. 2003)
  • Renaissance Charter School, Inc. v. Department of Community Affairs and School Board of Miami-Dade County, Case No. 1D09-2065 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010)
  • Seay Outdoor Advertising, Inc. v. City of Mary Esther, Florida, 397 F.3d 943 (11th Cir. 2005) (amicus brief for Citizens for a Scenic Florida)
  • City Of Weston, Florida; Village Of Key Biscayne, Florida; Town Of Cutler Bay, Florida; Lee County, Florida; City Of Deerfield Beach, Florida; City Of Miami Gardens, Florida; City Of Fruitland Park, Florida, City Of Parkland, Florida, City Of Homestead, Florida; Cooper City, Florida; City Of Pompano Beach, Florida; City Of North Miami, Florida; Village Of Palmetto Bay, Florida; City Of Coral Gables, Florida; City Of Pembroke Pines, Florida; Broward County, Florida; Levy County, Florida; St. Lucie County, Florida; Islamorada, Village Of Islands, Florida; And Town Of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida, v. The Honorable Charlie Crist, Governor Of The State Of Florida; The Honorable Kurt S. Browning, Secretary Of State, State Of Florida; The Honorable Jeff Atwater, President Of The Senate, State Of Florida; The Honorable Larry Cretul, Speaker Of The House, State Of Florida, Case No. 2009 CA 2639 (2nd Judicial Circuit, Fla. 2010)
  • Outdoor Media Group, Inc., and Chance Outdoor, LLC, v. City Of Beaumont, California, Case No. No. 10-56081 (9th Cir. 2011) (amicus brief for Citizens for a Scenic Florida)
  • Atwater v. City of Weston, 64 So. 3d 701 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011)

Awards and Recognitions

  • AV Rated
  • Avvo Rating "10.0"
  • "Florida SuperLawyer," Florida SuperLawyers, 2010-present
  • Legal Elite
  • Burns Fellowship in Development Planning

Press Mentions