Susan L. Trevarthen, FAICP


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  • Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Rated
  • Legal Elite award
  • Super Lawyers

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, Medley, Doral, Marco Island, Indialantic and Homestead; the Towns of Cutler Bay and Lauderdale-By-The-Sea; and the Villages of Bal Harbour, Key Biscayne and Pinecrest. 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, Wellington, Lauderhill, Juno Beach, Pompano Beach, Sunrise, Hallandale Beach, Parkland, Hollywood, Coconut Creek, Vero Beach, Plant City, Miami Beach, 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 is a member of the Board of Directors of 1000 Friends of Florida. 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 College of Fellows 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


  • Representing the American Planning Association, co-author of the amicus brief addressing the interests of the American Planning Association, National League of Cities, International Municipal Lawyers Association, US Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, International City/County Management Association, and Scenic America, Inc., in the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case of Reed v. Town of Gilbert.
  • Updated and revised regulations of signs for City of Sunrise after it was challenged, and resulting regulations were upheld by the Eleventh Circuit. Advised the City on the implementation and interpretation of the sign code as it related to the Broward County Civic Arena and other developments.
  • Updated and revised regulation of signs for City of Miramar and, working with the Litigation Group, successfully defended the sign regulations in the Southern District of Florida.
  • Working with the Litigation Group, successfully defended the City of Boca Raton's sign regulations in the Southern District of Florida.
  • Updated and revised regulations of signs for Cities of Weston, Coconut Creek and Dania Beach, Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, and Pasco County, without challenge.
  • Updated regulations of signs following Reed for Parkland, Weston, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, New Port Richey and Pinecrest.

Sexually Oriented Businesses

  • 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 the three existing, nonconforming locations.
  • Updated and revised regulations of sexually oriented businesses in the City of Hallandale Beach, and worked with Litigation 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.
  • Revised regulations and advised on defense of challenge in Lauderhill.

Places of Worship

  • Updated and revised regulations of places of public assembly, and working with the Litigation 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. Advising the City of Lauderhill with code revisions in response to a Department of Justice investigation related to regulation of religious uses. Drafted procedures for reasonable accommodation and zoning relief for several municipalities.
  • Drafted amicus brief for American Planning Association on Religious Freedom Restoration Act challenge in California.
Zoning Districts and Supplemental Regulations
  • Drafted and advised on the implementation of targeted moratoria for various purposes in the Cities of Homestead, Hollywood and Hallandale Beach, without challenge.
  • Drafted vacation rental regulations for several municipalities before preemption, and have defended challenges and advised several municipalities on the ability to amend grandfathered regulations or adopt new regulations compliant with state law.
  • Drafted regulations of medical marijuana uses for several municipalities and was the appointee of the Florida Municipal Attorneys’ Association to statewide working group of local government and public safety interests.
  • Developed Planned Unit Development regulations for the Cities of Homestead and Sunrise, and created a form-based overlay with Dover Kohl & Partners for the Planned Area Development District in City of Coral Gables.
  • 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, and routinely administer, interpret and advise on quasi-judicial hearing procedure.
  • Represented municipal staff or governing bodies in numerous contested quasi-judicial hearings in cities including Parkland, Weston, Hallandale Beach, Miramar, Deerfield Beach, Sunrise and North Bay Village.
  • Advised our municipalities and defended challenges to quasi-judicial decisions 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.
  • Drafted noise regulations for City of Sunrise and Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.
  • Revised, implemented and represented staff at hearings on telecommunications facilities.
  • Reviewed and advised on the implementation and updating of impact fee ordinances for municipal clients, 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.
  • Part of consulting team that completely rewrote the City of Dania Beach Land Development Code. 

Comprehensive Plans

  • Advised the City of Coral Gables on comprehensive plan amendment to enable form-based regulation in the Planned Area Development District.
  • 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 municipal clients on applicants’ plan amendments, and related rezonings.
  • Advised municipal clients on Evaluation and Appraisal Reports and related plan amendments, and other plan amendments necessary to implement State statutes.
  • 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.
  • Represented a coalition of Broward County municipalities and the Broward League of Cities in advocating for changes to the 2004 Broward County Evaluation and Appraisal process and potential changes to charter authority over land use.

  Public School Facilities

  • 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 mitigation agreement for school facilities.
  • 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.
  • Advised Sarasota County School Board 10 years later on updates to their system.
  • 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.

Developments of Regional Impact

  • 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.

Development Agreements 

  • Represented the City of Hallandale Beach in the Development Agreement and project approvals for BeachWalk condo hotel and related public-private partnership for development of Hyde Park Kitchen, a public restaurant and recreational facilities on the city’s beach.
  • Represented the City of Coral Gables in the Development Agreement and project approvals for Mediterranean Village, a 7-acre mixed use infill development designed with form-based regulations.
  • Represented the City of Sunrise in the land use aspects and related approvals for Development Agreements for several major projects including Metropica and Westerra.
  • Represented Village of Bal Halbour on a Development Agreement with the Bal Harbour shops.

Certifications and Specialties

  • The Florida Bar Board Certified, City, County and Local Government Law
  • College of Fellows of American Institute of Certified Planner (FAICP)
  • American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)


  • American Planning Association
  • Citizens for a Scenic Florida, Board of Directors Vice President
  • Florida Bar Section of Environmental and Land Use Law, Former Executive Council Member
  • Florida Bar Section of City, County and Local Government Law, Former Executive Council Member
  • 1000 Friends of Florida, Member of Board of Directors


  • "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


  • “Planning in the Courts,” APA Florida’s 17th Annual Public Policy Workshop, 2/7/2019 
  • "Medical Marijuana And Its Impact On Our Communities", Florida City and County Management Association, June 2018
  • "Building an Ethical Organizational Culture", APA Florida Eleventh Annual Ethics Seminar: THE ETHICAL ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE, November 2017
  • Legislative Panel Luncheon for the Broward Section of the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association
  • "Land Use-Murr v. Wisconsin Part II", International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA), July 27, 2017
  • "Medical Marijuana Issues Affecting Local Government Including Land Use And Labor Issues", Florida City and County Management Association, 2017
  •  "Effects of Marijuana on Cities", Broward County Bar Association's Medical Marijuana Legalization Summit 2017
  • "Signs in the aftermath of Reed v. Town of Gilbert," International Municipal Lawyers Association, October 2015 and April 2016
  • "Law Planning and Plain English" and "Managing Protective Planning Commission and Zoning Board Meetings," APA National Conference, 2016 
  • "Planning 101," 2-Part webinar for the Florida City and County Managers Association and Florida Institute of Government, April and May 2016
  • “Planning Official Training,” APA Florida Conference, annually
  • Reed v. Town of Gilbert and sign codes,” American Bar Association, American Planning Association, Lorman Educational Services, Strafford, and 1000 Friends of Florida webinars, 2015
  • “Planning and the Courts,” APA Florida Conference, September 2015
  • “Quasi-Judicial Hearings” and "Municipal Land Use: Hot Topics," CLE International Land Use Law Conference, August 2015
  • “Medical Marijuana” and “Signs,” Florida Municipal Attorneys Association Annual Meeting, July 2015
  • “Changes to Growth Management Laws Affecting School Facilities,” Florida Educational Facilities Planners Association, July 2015
  • “Ethics Laws Affecting Florida Local Government Elected Officials,” Good Government Initiative, August 2014 and 2015
  • State-mandated ethics training for elected officials, Space Coast League of Cities and Palm Beach County League of Cities, 2015
  • “Planning and the Courts,” APA Florida Public Policy Workshop, February 2013-2015
  • “What Are Cities Doing To Deal With Problematic Vacation-Rentals?” Florida League of Cities Webinar, December 2014
  • “The Sharing Economy,” Florida League of Cities Legislative Conference, November 2014
  • “Counsel as Ethical Counselor,” 8th Annual Ethics Seminar of Palm Beach Planning Congress, November 2014
  • “Medical Marijuana,” Broward League of Cities, October 2014         
  • “Marijuana: What Does it Mean for Your City?” Palm Beach League of Cities, October 2014
  • “Land Use Regulations of Marijuana Related Uses,” Miami-Dade County Bar Local Government Section Seminar, September 2014
  • “Quasi-Judicial Hearings” and “RLUIPA,” CLE International Land Use Law Conference, August 2014
  • “Planning Ethics.” 1000 Friends of Florida Webinar, June 2014
  • “School Facilities,” APA National Planning Conference, April 2014
  • Rewrote the course materials and taught land use course for Florida league of cIties Advanced Institute for Elected Municipal Officials, November 2013
  • "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, 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
  • Frequent guest lecturer at University of Miami School of Law, St. Thomas University School of Law, Florida Atlantic University School of Urban Planning on land use, zoning and planning matters

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)
  • Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 135 S.Ct. 884, 190 L.Ed.2d 701, 83 USLW 3365, 2015 WL 2473374 (June 18, 2015) (co-authored amicus brief for American Planning Association)  

Awards and Recognitions

  • "Florida Super Lawyers", 2019
  • "MDCLC President's Municipal Service Award", MDCLC, 4/13/2017
  • "Super Lawyers", Super Lawyers 2015 - 2018
  • AV Rated
  • Avvo Rating "10.0"
  • "Florida SuperLawyer," Florida SuperLawyers, 2010-present
  • Legal Elite
  • Burns Fellowship in Development Planning
  • Cited with favor by Florida’s First District Court of Appeals in M&H Profit, Inc. v. City of Panama City, 28 So.3d 71 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009) for article on Harris Act: EC20049ADD1.

Press Mentions