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Sean has a keen attention to the details of lawmaking that make a zoning code clear, consistent, usable and defensible. As a planner and a lawyer, he brings a unique combination of disciplines, skills and perspectives to planning and coding efforts across America.

From 2010 to 2014, he served as the Chief Counsel of Land Use and Planning for the City of Cincinnati where he represented the municipal corporation and its officials in all planning, land use, zoning, historic preservation and building matters.

Sean was the lead counsel for the Cincinnati Form-Based Code, an award-winning code that was a first for a large legacy city like Cincinnati. He also served as the lead counsel for the Cincinnati Land Development Code, a new take on the City’s remaining Euclidean zoning, and for the City’s award-winning Historic Preservation ordinance.

Sean is a leader in the Urban Land Institute, where he serves as a liaison between district councils in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Indiana, Pittsburgh and Louisville.

Sean is a frequent speaker and panelist on the topics of land use law, historic preservation law, and zoning, including as a presenter at the 2017 APA National Conference in New York City and APA state conferences in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

In 2017, he served as Ohio faculty for the Form-Based Code Institute (201 level). He has served as an adjunct professor of land use law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning. His articles have been published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Midwest Real Estate News, Cities & Villages Magazine, Ohio Planners News, and others.

In addition to his work with Calfee Zoning, Sean is a Partner in its affiliate law firm Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP. Sean is licensed to practice law in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee (inactive), and the District of Columbia. Sean has been ranked by Chambers USA in 2019 for Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use in Ohio. He has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2019 in the area of Real Estate Law, he has been named to the 2018 Ohio Rising Stars List for Land Use/Zoning law by Super Lawyers, and Sean was named a "Cincy Leading Lawyer" by Cincinnati Magazine (2018, 2019).

Honors & Recognitions

Chambers USA, Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use, 2019

Best Lawyers in America©, Real Estate Law, Land Use and Zoning Law, 2019-2020

Ohio Super Lawyers, Ohio Rising Stars, 2007, 2009, 2016-2018

Cincy Magazine, "Cincy Leading Lawyers," Real Estate, Zoning, 2018-2019


J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 2004

Bachelor of Urban and Environmental Planning, with honors, University of Virginia School of Architecture, 2000



General Real Estate Development Experience

  • Represented office, retail, industrial, multi-family, senior/assisted living, and mixed-use developers in all aspects of real estate development
  • Extensive experience with real estate due diligence – title, survey, zoning, environmental
  • Experience with complex urban and suburban infill development
  • Experience drafting declarations and CC&R’s

Retail Real Estate Experience

  • Represented global retailer in development, ground lease, and lease transactions throughout Ohio and Kentucky
  • Represented shopping center developer/operator on anchor and in-line tenant leases
  • Represented shopping center developer in establishing covenants and restrictions
  • Represented numerous national and regional restaurant chains in real estate development, ground leasing and leasing
  • Represented purchaser of large regional mall property
  • Represented grocery-anchored shopping center owner/developer in development, ground leasing and leasing
  • Represented regional orthodontics practice in shopping center leases

Office Real Estate Experience

  • Represented global corporation in headquarters office lease
  • Represented regional bank in headquarters building development
  • Represented large corporation in lease of back office operations space
  • Represented law firm in office lease
  • Represented numerous landlords and tenants in office leases of all sizes

Industrial Real Estate Experience

  • Represented large office/warehouse developer/operator in development and leasing
  • Represented large warehouse tenant on lease of facility
  • Represented robotics manufacturer in facility expansion

Hospitality and Restaurant Experience

  • Represented hotel developers in development of suburban and urban hotels
  • Represented country and social clubs in connection with real estate and zoning matters
  • Represented hotel operator in disposition of hotels
  • Represented sit-down and fast casual restaurant chains in lease negotiations
  • Represented national lender in foreclosure of urban hotel and attached retail facility

Condominium Experience

  • Represented condominium association on amending declaration and by-laws in Ohio
  • Advised clients on condominium conversions in Ohio

Social Service and Continuum of Care Projects

  • Assisted multiple clients in obtaining zoning and development approvals for independent/assisted living developments in Southwest Ohio
  • Represented nonprofit client in obtaining zoning approvals for addiction treatment/mental health facilities in Southwest Ohio
  • Consulted with local government clients across Ohio on updating their zoning ordinances, including ordinances related to social service and continuum of care uses
  • Represented local government in assisting multiple social service agencies relocate in Cincinnati
  • Represented multiple nonprofit community service facilities in rezoning of property for facility expansions in Cincinnati
  • Represented local government in defending social service facility zoning in Cincinnati

Building Code

  • Represented doctor group in fire code appeal before Ohio Board of Building Appeals
  • Represented law firm in building code appeal before City of Cincinnati Board of Building Appeals
  • Represented developer clients in obtaining building permits
  • Advised numerous clients on building and fire code matters

Historic Preservation

  • Represented preservation associations in opposing demolition of historic building
  • Represented property owner in ancillary building demolition
  • Represented large city historic conservation board
  • Acted as lead draftsman of large city historic preservation ordinance
  • Represented large city in defending emergency demolition permit
  • Serve as Preservation Committee Chair for the Over-the-Rhine Foundation

Administrative Appeals and Litigation

  • Represented large city client in defending issuance of sign permit
  • Represented large city client in defending against administrative zoning appeals and constitutional claims
  • Represented clients in large commercial foreclosures
  • Represented property owners and large city client in property takings cases
  • Represented property owners and lessees on administrative zoning appeals
  • Represented property owners and lessees on administrative building code appeals
  • Represented property owners on real estate tax administrative appeals
  • Represented clients before Ohio state courts of all levels
  • Argued before trial and appellate courts in Ohio

Real Estate Taxation Experience

  • Represented Duke Energy Convention Center in tax valuation appeal
  • Represented Cincinnati Recreation Commission in tax valuation appeals for seven municipal golf courses
  • Successfully appealed Ohio Tax Commissioner determination before Ohio Board of Tax Appeals
  • Advise commercial real estate clients on real property taxation
  • Experience with special purpose property tax valuations

Professional & Community

Professional & Community

Urban Land Institute (ULI) Cincinnati District Council

American Planning Association (APA), Private Practice and Law Divisions (Amicus Curiae Committee)

The Society of St. Vincent DePaul, Facilities Committee

Presentations & Publications

Presentations & Publications

Sean speaks frequently on topics of zoning, including at local, regional, and national conferences and has been published and quoted on matters of commercial real estate as well as land use and zoning. 

  • American Planning Association (APA) 2018 Northeast Ohio Zoning Workshop, Conneaut, Ohio
  • American Planning Association (APA) 2018 Central Ohio Zoning Workshop, Columbus, Ohio
  • American Planning Association (APA) 2017 National Conference, New York City, New York
  • American Planning Association (APA) 2017 Ohio Conference, Athens, Ohio
  • American Planning Association (APA) 2017 Indiana Conference, Lafayette, Indiana
  • American Planning Association (APA) 2017 Tennessee Conference, Memphis, Tennessee
  • American Planning Association (APA) 2017 Cincinnati Zoning Workshop, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • American Planning Association (APA) 2017 Cleveland Zoning Workshop, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) 2017 Annual Conference, Petoskey, Michigan
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Municipal Law Day 2017, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Heritage Ohio 2016 Conference, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Legacy Cities 2016 Conference, Detroit, Michigan
  • Form-Based Code Institute 201 Faculty, 2016, Columbus, Ohio
  • American Planning Association (APA) 2015 Pennsylvania Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Urban Land Institute (ULI) Cleveland Zoning Workshop, 2015, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Legacy Cities 2014 Conference, Cleveland, Ohio

News & Events

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