Cheryl L. Gaston, Esq.
Cheryl L. Gaston concentrates her practice in the areas of zoning and zoning litigation. Ms. Gaston was appointed in February, 2016 by Mayor Kenney to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, a Departmental Commission that reviews and approves the City Comprehensive Plan, proposed zoning ordinances, maps and amendments; capital programs and budgets; and streets and subdivisions. She was recognized in May 2011 by The Philadelphia Tribune and Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia as a “Top Attorney” (Real Estate) in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Prior to private practice, she served as the Senior Attorney responsible for all Zoning Code matters in Philadelphia and as Counsel to the Zoning Board of Adjustment of the City of Philadelphia from 1992-2008. In that capacity, she was responsible for virtually all zoning litigation involving the City of Philadelphia including extensive appellate court litigation and Constitutional challenges to provisions of the Zoning Code.
Ms. Gaston is serving a third 3-year term on the Executive Committee of the Real Property Section, has Co-Chaired its Zoning, Land Use and Code Enforcement Committee for over 20 years and served as Secretary, Treasurer, Vice – Chair and Chair of the Real Property Section in 2011. As such, she was heavily involved in the deliberations on reforming the City’s Zoning Code, suggesting numerous changes ultimately incorporated into the proposed code. Ms. Gaston is the 2012 Recipient of the Real Property Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Harris Ominsky “Good Deed” Award in recognition of her leadership contribution in the adoption of the new Philadelphia Zoning Code. Ms. Gaston also co-authored the article “Entering a New Zone – Philadelphia Zoning Code Revised for the First Time in More Than 50 Years”. The Philadelphia Lawyer, Vol. 75 No. 3 Fall 2012.
Ms. Gaston is a frequent speaker and course planner of accredited programs for attorneys and the general public on zoning and land use including: “Understanding Philadelphia Zoning: An Overview of the Zoning Code in an Ever-Changing Philadelphia” (2015);”New Developments In Zoning In Philadelphia” (2012); “Overview Of The New Philadelphia Zoning Code” (2012); “The ABC’s of the ZBA” (2009); “Navigating Through The Maze: Helping Real Estate Clients Steer Through The City of Philadelphia’s Approval Process” (2007); “Winning Zoning Cases in Philadelphia” (2006).
- Real Estate
- Zoning Litigation
- Counsel, Zoning Board of Adjustment, City of Philadelphia
- Chief Deputy City Solicitor, Law Department for the City of Philadelphia, Code Enforcement Unit
- Senior Attorney for Zoning and Code Enforcement, Law Department for the City of Philadelphia
- Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads – Philadelphia, PA
- Judicial Law Clerk, U.S. District Court, Honorable Clifford Scott Green
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- Past Chair, Real Property Section, Philadelphia Bar Association
- Chair, Zoning, Land Use & Code Enforcement Committee, Philadelphia Bar Association
- Board of Governors, Philadelphia Bar Association
- Past President, The Lawyers’ Club of Philadelphia
- Board of Directors, Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia
- J.D., Delaware Law School
- B.S., Widener University
- Successfully obtained zoning approval for numerous projects, such as : (1) conversion of a former warehouse structure into multiple residential and commercial units, (2) a recycling facility, (3) cell tower facilities with public amenities located in residential zoning districts (4) approval of first Good Will intake facility in Pennsylvania and (5) rooftop antenna for Chestnut Hill College.
- Successfully defended against an Order issued to a City block to rebuild a private retaining wall at a cost of $500,000 before the Board of License and Inspections Review (“BLIR”) by proving that the City failed to follow State law and its own laws in issuing the Order and providing expert testimony to support an alternate theory of cause of collapse of the wall.
- Successfully litigated a matter of first impression that only the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, and not the Zoning Board of Adjustment, has jurisdiction to hear appeals concerning decisions involving residential districts rendered by the City Planning Commission and City Council.
- Successfully litigated a matter of first impression that challenged the validity of a provision of the Zoning Code terminating nonconforming use status when a structure or use becomes the subject of a variance granted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment or by a Court.
- Selected in 1998 to testify on behalf of the City of Philadelphia before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee regarding H.R. 1534 (the “property rights bill”) which would have dramatically changed the law concerning access to federal courts by redefining when a takings claim is “ripe” for federal adjudication. The testimony pointed out such deficiencies in the proposed legislation the Senate voted to block the bill.