Harry Lerch, an attorney and immediate past president of Lerch, Early & Brewer, is one of the most influential land use and zoning professionals in the region. For more than 40 years, his law practice has been focused in the areas of eminent domain and condemnation proceedings, zoning, planning, traffic mitigation, historic preservation and legacy open space.
Banks, major national retail chains, schools, country clubs, medical and health care facilities, community associations, religious organizations and automotive dealerships, as well as individuals, turn to Harry to guide them in various real estate and development endeavors. He works diligently with clients to define their objectives, then applies determination and creativity to achieve the desired results. Harry is known for his inspired approach to problem-solving; clients have described him as thinking “inside, outside and around the box.” His “secret” arises from his ability to ascertain the true facts of his clients’ cases and then to present them, in complete honesty and openness, to the neighbors, government agency and/or other decision makers, in a way that meets their standards and objectives. In case after case, the result has been a “win-win” for all concerned.
Prior to joining Lerch Early in 1970, Harry served as General Counsel for The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates. During his 5 year tenure at M-NCPPC, he oversaw the purchase of more than 14,000 acres of park land and was responsible for drafting numerous items of legislation affecting zoning, subdivision and planning in Montgomery County and throughout the state of Maryland. In 1970 he served in the Maryland House of Delegates, representing Montgomery County.
On many occasions, Harry has served as a consultant and expert witness on local, state and federal matters, and has served as a member of a variety of commissions and advisory committees to the Montgomery County Council and other government bodies concerning zoning and planning issues.
Harry has argued – and won – more than a dozen major land use cases before the Court of Appeals of Maryland. He has tried many condemnation cases on behalf of both government agencies and private property owners.
Harry was born in Washington, D.C., and is a lifelong resident of Montgomery County. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and his Juris Doctor from The George Washington University School of Law.
He is a longtime member of the American Bar Association’s Real Property, Probate and Trust section and its Land Use and Condemnation Law committee; the American College of Real Estate Lawyers; the Urban Land Institute; the Montgomery County Bar Foundation; the Montgomery County Bar Association and the West Montgomery County Citizens Association. In 1989 he was elected president of the 2200 member Montgomery County Bar Association. He also was a member of the National Conference of Bar Presidents and participated in the ABA Leadership Training Institute.
He has been included in the Best Lawyers in America every year since 1999 and is listed in its Real Estate Law, Eminent Domain & Condemnation Law and Land Use & Zoning Law categories. He has also been listed in the Maryland and D.C. editions of Super Lawyers since their inaugural editions.
A commercially licensed pilot since the mid-1960s, Harry is an active member of the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association and regularly takes aerial photographs of real estate projects for strategy development. His passion for flying led him to help found and incorporate the Montgomery County Air Park Users Association and serve as its first president. He loves to travel and has navigated the skies of 49 states and half dozen foreign countries.
Prince Georges County vs M-NCPPC — Major declaratory judgment and injunction suit by a county government challenging the constitutionality, legality and existance of my client, a regional park and planning agency.
Case was won in the Circuit Court and the Maryland Court of Appeals (Maryland's highest court). Cert petition by plaintiffs was denied.
Davis vs Prince Georges County — Represented major shopping center developer/owner. Neighboring property owners sued shopping center claiming it's zoning was unlawful. Shopping center was under construction, with a conservative value of $50M.
Tenants included Home Depot, Shoppers' Food Warehouse, many others.
Client won case in the Circuit Court and in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, decided with an unreported opinion.
Montgomery County vs Armstrong — Represented property owner of 17 acres of town house land in condemnation of the property for a new road and park expansion. Property owner was a retired school teacher.
Government made initial offer of a few hundred thousand dollars. After extensive arbitration hearings over many months, the property owner ultimately achieved a negotiated settlement of many million dollars.
Chadwick Property Subdivision and Eminent Domain Taking — Represented property owner in subdivision application and subsequent proceedings. When subdivision was denied and property put into reservation for government acquisition, we appealed. Circuit Court reversed, ruling in favor of
our client. and holding that a three year reservation was unconstitutional. The Maryland Court of Appeals (Maryland's highest court) affirmed, holding the denial to be an unconstitutional taking.
Subsequent proceedings involved trial by the court of the value of the temporary taking and a subsequent eminent domain jury trial of the total taking.
Montgomery County vs Goldman, Burka, et al — Represented the families who owned the historic shopping center and theater in the heart of the Silver Spring Town Center commercial area. The property was taken by the county for urban renewal.
Advocated for fair valuation on behalf of the property owners and achieved a settlement several times the initial offer of a few million dollars.
Also represented numerous individual property owners, including handicapped owners of special use properties, home owners associations in obtaining fair compensation for their properties in many eminent domain cases.