What started as a small focus of David Murray’s practice early in his career has grown substantially in the last decade as his eminent domain clients have also needed assistance in zoning matters involving local municipalities. At Murray Law, we represent landowners facing zoning issues like variances, appeals and rezonings in North Carolina. While we primarily focus on Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte, we also represent clients on zoning matters across the State.

Quasi-Judicial Hearings - Zoning Board of Adjustment & Planning Board:

The North Carolina State Bar issued an advisory opinion stating that only lawyers may represent landowners in quasi-judicial hearings before the zoning board of adjustment and/or planning board; any non-lawyer who attempts to represent landowners in these hearings would be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. In quasi-judicial hearings, evidence is taken to support a decision, like for a variance or an appeal. Although architects, engineers, builders, real estate agents and brokers, surveyors, and other non-lawyers are not permitted to represent landowners, they often present evidence to attempt to correct an error they made. The problem is that those individuals typically do not know all the statutory requirements under Chapter 160D of the North Carolina General Statutes that govern the quasi-judicial hearings before the zoning boards. This can leave a landowner in a precarious situation, especially when a group of neighbors appear at the hearing, with or without a lawyer, to oppose the variance or appeal.

David Murray has years of experience cross-examining and arguing against opposing parties at zoning hearings. He knows the proper ways to introduce the relevant evidence that the board will consider as well as when to make objections to irrelevant evidence. Many of David’s clients have told him that his effective way of neutralizing opposition is the primary reason they hire him to handle all their zoning matters.


If you review the hearing agendas for the City of Charlotte Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) meetings for the last decade, then you will see that no attorney has represented more landowners seeking variances than David Murray. Since 2014, David has obtained over fifty (50) variances for his clients in Charlotte. You can expect to see him at the Charlotte ZBA hearings almost every month. He has also obtained multiple variances in Matthews, Huntersville, Pineville, and Cornelius. This number does not include the countless administrative deviations and interpretations that David has obtained for clients to resolve minor zoning issues.

A variance is necessary when there is a hardship at a property which makes compliance with the zoning ordinance unreasonable. Common examples of situations that often require a variance are:

  • To bring into conformity a structure built in good faith reliance upon an erroneous building permit, zoning inspection, and/or survey;
  • To allow an addition or renovation to a house built prior to the current zoning code which encroaches into the now required zoning setbacks; or
  • To allow new construction on an extremely small or uniquely shaped lot; or
  • To allow a construction of a structure into a lake buffer.


In addition to his accomplished record for obtaining variances, David has also successfully represented landowners in contentious zoning appeal matters. These appeals set the landowner’s interpretation of a zoning ordinance against that of the municipal zoning administrator whose job it is to interpret the ordinance. Some of David’s most prominent appeal cases are as follows:

  • New Construction – Industrial Circle, Charlotte – Obtained affirmation from the Charlotte Zoning Board, against an appealing neighbor, that a landowner had vested rights to build in compliance with a 1988 plan approved by Charlotte City Council.
  • Eastway Wrecker Service – Wilkinson Boulevard, Charlotte— Obtained a reversal of the Charlotte zoning administrator’s opinion that a wrecker service with outside storage of inoperable vehicles was operating an illegal junkyard. The Zoning Board held that the use was legally non-conforming and could continue.
  • Industrial Building – Stetson Drive, Charlotte – Obtained a decision from the North Carolina Court of Appeals reversing the trial court and Charlotte Zoning Board. The Court held that an industrial landowner was not required to provide new screening to all dumpsters on its property which would have resulted in substantial cost.
  • Ed’s Tavern – Park Road, Charlotte – Obtained a decision from the Mecklenburg County Superior Court reversing the Charlotte Zoning Board. The Court held that the outdoor covered deck was an enclosed building for purposes of the ordinance and did not have to be closed at 11 pm.
  • Commercial Building – Grover, NC – Obtained a decision from the North Carolina Court of Appeals reversing the trial court and Town of Grover Zoning Board. The Court held that a conditional use permit should have been granted for a sweepstakes business.
  • Century Communities, Wade Jurney Homes – Huntersville, NC – Obtained a decision from the Mecklenburg County Superior Court reversing the Town of Huntersville Zoning Board on three variance cases involving new homes. The Court held that the builder was entitled to variances up to 2.5’ for three new homes that were built in good faith reliance upon erroneous surveys. This decision prevented the new homes from being torn down due to noncompliance.


David is one of a select few attorneys in Charlotte who represents landowners in obtaining rezonings. Given the substantial growth in the Charlotte metro region, rezonings have become more common, which also means that the process has become more complex and long. David knows the rezoning process and takes the lead for clients in navigating the rezoning process which often involves community meetings, public hearings, lobbying council members, and revising site plans. A few examples of rezonings David has obtained for clients are the following:

  • Station West – Berryhill Road, Charlotte - rezoning from industrial to mixed-use to allow an adaptive reuse of an old warehouse building for restaurants, offices, and meeting space.
  • Prime Express - Mallard Creek Road at Carolina Lily Lane, Charlotte – rezoning from residential to neighborhood services to allow a convenience store gas station without parcels for restaurants and offices.
  • Robinson House – Derita Avenue, Charlotte – rezoning from residential to institutional to allow historic house and property to be used as a wedding venue.
  • Multiple single family to urban residential and higher density rezonings to allow subdivisions.

If you need assistance with a variance, zoning appeal or rezoning for your land in North Carolina, contact Murray Law’s Charlotte office or call us at 704-940-9095 to schedule a consultation with our zoning attorney to discuss your matter. We understand the complexities of the zoning process in the Charlotte area and are committed to advocating for your rights and interests throughout your zoning matter. When you hire Murray Law, you can trust that our attorney will review your case thoroughly, prepare a strong argument to support your position and work to get you the results you need.