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Françoise M. Carrier’s practice focuses on land use and zoning. She has a wealth of experience in entitlements and approvals, rezonings, conditional uses, variances, master plans, zoning, and subdivision code updates, government relations, and the resolution of real estate disputes. She represents public and private clients in Montgomery County, Maryland, and surrounding jurisdictions.

Ms. Carrier has more than 25 years of experience as a lawyer, administrative law judge, and public official in the fields of land use, zoning, and planning. As Chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board from June 2010 to August 2014, she led a successful effort to rewrite the entire Montgomery County Zoning Ordinance and secure its adoption by the County Council, as well as the preparation of a groundbreaking bus rapid-transit master plan and the approval of millions of square feet of development. As a Hearing Examiner for Montgomery County from 2001 to 2010, Ms. Carrier conducted administrative hearings on hundreds of land use matters and prepared recommendations for the final decision-makers. 

Following her experience leading zoning hearings for the Montgomery County Council for nine years, the Council appointed Ms. Carrier as Chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board, the most important position in the County related to land use, zoning, and planning. In this capacity, she led the Planning Board through a difficult and busy period, including the successful development and adoption of a complete zoning code rewrite that was five years in the making, adoption of nine area master plans and a groundbreaking countywide rapid transit functional master plan, and approval of millions of square feet of development. She also oversaw management of the Planning and Parks Departments with combined staff of over 700 people and combined budgets of over $100 million per year. 

Ms. Carrier joined Bregman, Berbert, Schwartz & Gilday, LLC as Of Counsel in 2014. At the firm, Ms. Carrier represents land developers in securing approval for development projects and provides strategic advice on preparing application materials, coordinating communications with government staff, conducting private meetings with decision-makers where legally permitted, making appearances in public meetings before decision-making bodies, and taking post-approval steps to ensure all necessary permits are acquired. She also provides legal and consulting services to local government entities, particularly in connection with zoning and subdivision code rewrites and revisions. Drawing on her own experience as a government official, she provides policy advice related to zoning and land use issues, drafts legislative text, assists with public presentations and outreach, and participates in presentations to decision-makers.

As a result of her extensive experience preparing and interpreting master plans, Ms. Carrier is adept at representing land owners in connection with the preparation of these plans. In this area, she works to ensure that her clients’ long-term interests are communicated to government staff and decision-makers in a timely, persuasive fashion and incorporated in master plan language.

  • Representative Experience
    • Obtained successful outcomes for a development project in Ashton, Maryland, that required a zoning text amendment, a rezoning, and standard development entitlements.
    • Obtained successful outcomes for property owners in the recent Bethesda Downtown Plan, White Flint 2 Sector Plan, and Rock Spring Sector Plan in Montgomery County.
    • Successfully obtained the first level of development entitlement for property owner to implement increased density and height obtained in White Flint 2 Sector Plan.
    • Represented a local government entity in negotiating and drafting transactional documents to successfully close a complicated real estate transaction implementing a private-public development agreement.
    • Currently assisting government entity in West Virginia in drafting the jurisdiction’s first subdivision ordinance (adoption expected in spring 2019).
    • Served on the litigation team representing a government entity in a land condemnation action, including assisting in the preparation of a land use expert for deposition and in questioning of the opposition land use expert.
    • Currently providing support, including work on pleadings based on knowledge of proposed development project and land use process, to litigation team representing a developer in connection with a lawsuit challenging the developer’s legal authority to redevelop a property.
    • Currently serving as consulting expert in zoning and development law for a local government defending a lawsuit challenging a building permit denial.
    • Testified as a zoning law expert in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County to support the successful effort by the trustee of a revocable trust to defeat an attempt to have trustee replaced.
  • Professional Affiliations
    • Chair, Montgomery County Planning Board, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, 2010 – 2014
    • Director/Hearing Examiner, Montgomery County Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings, 2001 – 2010
    • Board Member, Communities for Transit (Montgomery County, Maryland), 2014 – 2016
    • Member, Rapid Transit Task Force (Montgomery County, Maryland), 2010 – 2011 (ex officio) and April – October 2015
    • Member, Montgomery Women (Montgomery County, Maryland), 2010 – present
  • Community Involvement
    • Member, Montgomery County Art Review Panel, 2018 – present
    • Board Member (ex officio), Montgomery Parks Foundation (Montgomery County, Maryland), 2010 – 2014