Christopher Michael Ruhlen



Chris Ruhlen is a land use attorney who focuses on land use, zoning, real estate, and related governmental issues. He assists national and local real estate developers, property owners, commercial tenants and small businesses with a full range of planning, zoning and regulatory matters in Montgomery County and other Maryland jurisdictions.

Chris leverages strong communication skills to facilitate creative solutions for his clients. He’s cultivated effective relationships with officials at all levels of government allowing him to work with all parties to reach the best possible result.

Chris’s experience includes handling complex matters before the Montgomery County Planning Board, the Montgomery County Board of Appeals, the Montgomery County Office of Zoning & Administrative Hearings, the Montgomery County Sign Review Board, and the Montgomery County Council, as well as similar entities in other jurisdictions including the City of Rockville and City of Gaithersburg. He provides clients with the information they need to navigate the processes for subdivision and site plan approvals, special exceptions, variances, local map amendments, zoning text amendments, signage approvals, and building permits, and takes care of the myriad details involved in obtaining entitlements and other approvals from local administrative boards and commissions.

Chris, a busy father of three young daughters, is an ardent music fan who can often be found jamming out on his guitar at venues around metro DC.

Honors & Awards

•Listed as a Rising Star in Land Use & Zoning by Maryland Super Lawyers (2013, 2015)
•Listed as a Rising Star in Land Use & Zoning by Washington, DC Super Lawyers (2013, 2015)

Community Involvement

•Montgomery County Department of Parks Energized Public Spaces: Functional Master Plan Working Group (2016-2018)
•Montgomery County Noise Control Advisory Board (Board Member 2011-2014)



•Do Increasing Vacancies Spell the End of Suburban Office Parks? October 24, 2016
•2015 Real Property Taxes: Deadlines Approach for Commercial Property Owners January 27, 2015
•Montgomery County Takes Steps Towards Rapid Transit February 10, 2014
•Local Shopping Center Redevelopments Promise More Than Drive and Shop June 11, 2012


•How Will Retail Trends Affect Future Development in Montgomery County? September 15, 2017
•Hotels: A Project and Firm Diversification Strategy May 28, 2015


•Lerch Early Names 6 New Principals January 4, 2016
•Chris Ruhlen Moderates ULI Panel on Hotels as a Project and Firm Diversification Strategy May 28, 2015
•Lerch Early Receives Homeless Persons Representation Project's Outstanding Law Firm Award April 22, 2015
•Tower Companies Break Ground for The Pearl April 20, 2015
•Lerch Early Lawyers Named to 2015 Super Lawyers List April 16, 2015
•Chris Ruhlen Featured in and WTOP April 16, 2015
•Lerch Early Lawyers Named to 2015 Super Lawyers List December 15, 2014
•Chris Ruhlen Selected for ULI Washington Regional Land Use Leadership Institute September 12, 2014
•Chris Ruhlen Speaks on Master Planning and Zoning June 26, 2014
•Chris Ruhlen Speaks at Economic Summit October 11, 2013
•Chris Ruhlen Moderates BCC Chamber Real Estate Update June 7, 2013
•Chris Ruhlen Participates in UrbanPlan Initiative at BCC High School June 5, 2013
•Chris Ruhlen Elected to Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce Board May 28, 2013
•Lerch Early Lawyers Named to 2013 Super Lawyers List April 26, 2013
•Lerch Early Lawyers Named to 2013 Super Lawyers List December 12, 2012
•Chris Ruhlen Participates in UrbanPlan Program at BCC High School June 1, 2012
•Chris Ruhlen Moderates BCC Chamber Real Estate Update Event May 24, 2012

Areas of Practice (3)

  • Land Use
  • Real Estate
  • Zoning

Education & Credentials

Contact Information:
(301) 841-3834  Phone
(301) 347-1762  Fax
University Attended:
American University, B.A., Anthropology, magna cum laude, 1998
Law School Attended:
University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 2005
Year of First Admission:
2005, Maryland

Professional Memberships

•Urban Land Institute (Executive Committee, 2016-2018; Management Committee, 2016-2018; Next 10 Initiative Council Co-Chair 2014-2018; Regional Land Use Leadership Institute 2014-2015; UrbanPlan 2010-present; Young Leaders Group 2006-2011)
•Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce (Executive Committee 2013-2016; Board of Directors 2013-2016; Vice President, Economic Development & Government Affairs 2013-2015; Co-Chair, Real Estate Committee, 2011-2013; Bethesda Green representative, 2009-2011)
•Maryland Building Industry Association
•District of Columbia Building Industry Association
•U.S. Green Building Council, National Capital Region Chapter (Board of Directors, Montgomery County Branch, 2010-2013)

Birth Information:
Reported Cases:
Representative Matters: The Blairs (Silver Spring): Assisted The Tower Companies in obtaining site plan approval for Phases 1 and 2 of The Blairs, a 30-acre mixed-use development. The site plan will result in 605,000 square feet of new residential floor area, residential amenity space, public use space, and structured parking.; Fenwick Apartments (Silver Spring): Worked on behalf of Nova-Habitat, Inc. and Insight Property Group to obtain approvals of preliminary, project, and site plans for redevelopment of a former U.S. Post Office site with a new multifamily residential building and amenities including a Capital Bikeshare station. The project also required representation in connection with obtaining sign variance approvals for the completion of the building.; McDonald's: Served as land use counsel for McDonald's in connection with remodeling and rebuilding older existing restaurants throughout Montgomery County. Secured special exceptions, site plans, and other land use entitlements necessary to replace outdated restaurants and drive-thrus with contemporary features.; Ellsworth Place Mall (Silver Spring): Assisted efforts by Rockwood Capital and Petrie Richardson Ventures in obtaining site plan amendments and comprehensive sign concept plan approvals for the revitalization and rebranding of the former City Plan Mall, including approvals for large LED screens displaying news, and mall and county information.; Nuclear Regulatory Commission HQ (North Bethesda): Obtained a very complex technical revision for Lerner Enterprises to update the site plan for an existing building in an emerging Transit Oriented Development area to reflect modern parking standards.; Clarksburg Premium Outlets (Clarksburg): Worked on behalf of Simon Property Group, New England Development, and Streetscape Partners to obtain comprehensive sign concept plan approvals from the Montgomery County Sign Review Board for a new outlet mall development.; Habitat for Humanity (Gaithersburg): Obtained planning board approval for a 4-lot subdivision (Pro Bono).; TD Bank (Bethesda): Secured entitlements and served as land use counsel for redevelopment of a downtown gas station property into a TD Bank branch with onsite parking and drive through ATM. The 2,800 square foot bank now fits in seamlessly with the growing downtown area.; Carvana (Gaithersburg): Obtained land use entitlements and other necessary approvals from the Planning Commission for the first Carvana fulfillment center facility in the Washington metropolitan region, including a fully automated automobile vending machine tower.
Payment Information:
  • Credit cards accepted
  • Accepts MasterCard and Discover

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Bethesda, Maryland

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