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Our Team Can Help You Win Your Commercial Riparian Rights Case

Leading Virginia Commercial Riparian Rights Legal Services

Jim Lang and the Waterfront Law Team have unparalleled knowledge and experience in all aspects of the law applicable to commercial waterfront properties. In fact, our team is known for going above and beyond. They’ve stripped off their shoes, climbed down river banks, and deployed turbidity curtains - all to shield commercial clients from criminal prosecution. 

Our law group has a dedicated team of four attorneys who collectively bring over 70 years of legal experience in environmental law, riparian property rights law, maritime & admiralty law, state court litigation, and federal court litigation. We frequently represent clients before government agencies such as the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Local Wetlands Boards, City Councils, and the Board of Supervisors.

Waterfront Law is also a division of the full service, widely respected, law firm of Pender & Coward, P.C., with offices in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Suffolk. This bench strength allows the team to collaborate with over 35 attorneys on any nuance in any body of law. Whatever your case may be, Jim Lang and the Waterfront Riparian Right Law Team offers big firm expertise with one-on-one service. 

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What are Commercial Riparian Rights Cases?

A trusted, knowledgeable legal advisor is indispensable when acquiring or operating commercial or industrial waterfront properties. Our team will protect you by making sure you have provisions in your purchase agreement for acquisition of waterfront real estate that provide a suitable “study period.” This study period avoids the loss of your earnest money deposit in the event that the Phase I (or II) Environmental Site Assessment, or your other due diligence study work, uncovers a problem at the property. 

Our clients know that they need to do these studies so that they do not get hit with a costly environmental cleanup. It also protects them against the possibility that hidden pollution at the property will limit their intended use of the land after closing.

Construction of a new waterfront property will move forward more smoothly with help from an attorney who understands Wetlands Laws, Erosion and Sediment Control Laws, Stormwater Laws, Dredging Laws, Endangered Species Act, and Marine Mammal Protection Act

Operating your commercial facility near the water calls for an experienced environmental and riparian rights attorney who can help you preserve your littoral right to operate in the face of limitations threatened by encroaching incompatible development, whether on the land or in the water

We can keep you informed of the new laws that can make it more costly and difficult to operate your waterfront facility and defend you when things inevitably go wrong, like when someone at your facility accidentally releases oil or hazardous substances into the water.

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US Army Corps of Engineers
Draft Integrated City of Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study / Environmental Impact Statement (Figure 10-36)

Commercial Riparian Rights Law Specialties

Pier Cases

Jim Lang and team specialize in representing clients at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) and US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Whether you need a permit to build a pier or prevent construction of a pier the Waterfront Law Team has the knowledge and experience to lead you to victory. Read more about our Pier Cases here.

Environmental Site Assessments (Phase I & Phase II)

Environmental due diligence cases require legal and technical expertise to ensure all federal and state environmental liability protections are satisfied. Jim Lang and team perform due diligence to research environmental conditions of commercial waterfront properties to allocate liability and manage environmental risks. These cases often begin with a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, performed in accordance with the ASTM E1527.  Review this article in our blog to learn more about the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment.  

Wetlands Cases

With a close working relationship with the VMRC and USACE staff, Jim Lang oversees multiple wetlands cases each year that favor the riparian rights of his commercial clients. If you need help obtaining a wetlands permit or have already been charged with a violation, the Waterfront Law Team is prepared to fight for you.

Environmental Violation Defense Cases

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) enforces regulations that affect the depth and course of water bodies, wildlife habitats, soil quality, plant life, control of hazardous waste, and soil, air, and water quality. Our team defends commercial entities who are charged by regulatory agencies like the EPA and the DEQ. 

Dredging Cases

Has the waterway next to your commercial waterfront property lost its depth? Jim Lang and team help property owners dredge waterways to get them back on the water again.


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Commercial Riparian Rights Case Victories

Stormwater Flooding Achievement

The Waterfront Law Team recently scored a major federal court victory for HomeFed Corporation, the developers responsible for Ashville Park in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Ashville Park was approved in 2004 for 499 homes. To date, over 250 homes have been constructed, but these homes suffered from recurrent flooding which was especially bad  duringHurricane Matthew. HomeFed obtained a wetlands permit from the USACE.  The wetlands permit was an essential part of HomeFed’s multi-million dollar plan to protect the neighborhood. When a group filed a federal lawsuit to nullify the wetlands permit,  Jim Lang and the Waterfront Law Team persuaded the federal court to reject the challenge so that the Ashville Park neighborhood could be protected from flooding harm.

Pier Law Achievement

Our Waterfront Law team won a community pier case in Fairfax County Circuit Court for The Reserve Community Association. The victory ensured that residents get to keep their boat slips on the community pier as against a lawsuit from a neighbor who wanted to take them away.

Environmental Litigation Achievement

Riparian property rights are often the greatest element of value for waterfront land. One family used environmental law to protect its $6M property after their neighbor choked off the waterway with a fleet of rusting, unsightly, dilapidated ships. Any business or organization facing the threat of environmental citizen suit litigation should learn more here.

Sand Encroachment Achievement

Our client, working with the City of Virginia Beach, persuaded the Virginia General Assembly to enact into law the “general permit” concept that we designed in 2017. This change to the Virginia Coastal Primary Dunes and Beaches Act meant that ocean front property owners in the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach now have an environmentally responsible and cost-effective way to protect their property from encroaching sand.

Environmental Site Assessment Achievement 

The Waterfront Law Team guided a large bank in its acquisition of a potentially contaminated parcel after the Phase I & II Environmental Site Assessments revealed a leaking underground storage tank at the adjacent waterfront property. This resulted in the acquisition moving forward in a manner that shielded the client from potential environmental liability and brought about a price concession from the owner/seller.


Commercial Riparian Right Client Testimonials

Commercial Property Success (5 Stars)

"Jim is a skilled and professional attorney with high ethical standards."

- Bruce S.

Pier Law Expertise (5 Stars)

"Jim Lang and his team at Pender and Coward, came highly recommended to us as riparian rights experts and we weren't disappointed. We initially hired him to help us obtain additional slips for our community pier. When a member of our community filed suit against our homeowners' association in an attempt to take away our existing pier slips, Jim and his team fought for us tirelessly. The plaintiffs filed numerous motions and amended complaints, but thanks to Jim Lang, Jeff Wilson, Cozette and their amazing legal minds, we won! Jim is brilliant and he puts his heart and soul into your defense."

- Ann P.

Homeowner & Homeowners Association Triumph  (5 Stars)

“Jim Lang has been working with our homeowner's association for two years dealing with a host of complicated issues stemming from our Northern Virginia location on the Potomac River. What started as our collective interest in securing additional slips for the community pier turned into a series of disputes with a disgruntled member of the homeowner's association. Claims of contract violations, trespassing, easement disputes were thrown at the association and the individual homeowners in a relentless series of hostile actions. 

Throughout this legal morass, Jim and his team dealt with one novel issue after another with skill and aplomb, staying ahead of the plaintiffs at every legal turn and keeping us informed and calm during what can only be described as a community-wide nightmare. In the end, every important issue was decided by the court in the association's and homeowners' favor. Furthermore, Jim was mindful of the Association's financial limitations and did everything possible to minimize legal costs."

- Wendy M. 

Read More Testimonials from Our Satisfied Clients

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Commercial Riparian Rights Resources

Get A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Before Purchasing Commercial, Industrial Or Agricultural Real Estate

You found a property that aligns with the strategic plan for your business. Now, before time runs out in the “study period” provided in the sales contract, you are trying to decide whether to get a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (“Phase I”). If you skip over this important step, you leave open the possibility that the property is contaminated with hazardous substances, hazardous waste or hazardous materials. Learning this unhappy news for the first time after closing on the purchase can bring on a heavy case of buyer’s remorse.

Commercial Builders Beware: Complications Ahead On Non-Tidal Wetlands Permits In Virginia Aquaculture

We examine the effect of the 16 Nationwide Permits (NWP’s) that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) finalized on March 15, 2021. This could impact commercial builder planning to construct a residential subdivision on a parcel with non-tidal wetlands and the strategies that the commercial builder can use to keep the project on track while holding down costs in light of this new complicating factor.

The Larger Impact Of Dredging In Virginia

Waterfront commercial companies cannot get their or their customers’ vessels to the dock unless they can dredge. Consider too, that in 2018 the Port of Virginia delivered over $39 billion in gross state product and 397,000 jobs to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Commercial Riparian Rights Webinars

Dredging In Virginia Webinar

Learn all about dredging: its various types, requirements, costs, and impact on both the local and national economies. We outline the permit process for dredging projects, revealing our recommendations and best practices.

Stormwater, Erosion And Sediment Control At Construction Sites In Virginia Webinar

Uncover the federal history of stormwater, erosion, and sediment requirements, while learning about Virginia-specific laws that followed in response. Understand the stipulations of the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Law (VESCL) and the Virginia Stormwater Management Act.