WHEATON- Zoning law can often be a contentious field. Residents living near new retail developments may be worried about the impact extra noise or stormwater drainage may have on their homes. Environmentalists have concerns about real estate development’s impact on wildlife. And municipalities might be skeptical about increased traffic in their town.

Tracy Dean Kasson, a member of Rathje Woodward LLC, has navigated the zoning, documentation and contracts on more than 100 new developments throughout the suburban Chicagoland area. During that process, he speaks rationally and reasonably about the benefits these developments can bring to the neighbors.

“I go into every transaction controlling my emotions and articulating responses in a respectful manner. I try to be ready for any question or challenge that might come up,” Kasson says. “The second you go on the defensive and start getting argumentative, that’s when things stop moving forward. The key in a lot of these transactions is to keep the discussion going.”

Kasson applies this practice for all kinds of transactions, from residential subdivisions with just a handful of lots to office and retail space deals with Fortune 500 companies such as McDonald’s.

After 30 years as an attorney, he’s stillworking at the firm where he accepted his first associate position. Kasson’s father, Dean Kasson, worked with S. Louis Rathje for many years during his own career. Tracy was exposed to law at a very early age and still has some of his father’s typewritten law school outlines.

Kasson felt that law was the best career for him to pursue. After working in litigation for a few years, he got into real estate and zoning law with the influence of Rathje and Henry Stillwell. He’s remains at the same firm thanks to its partners’ interest in developing him and his career.

“They were always trying to help me develop my own clients and help me gain exposure so I could grow my own practice,” Kasson says.


Since his start in Wheaton in the late 1980s, Kasson has been a part of several projects that have helped change the western suburbs. Fifteen years ago, he worked on the  legal documentation to extend the Union Pacific West rail line from Geneva to Elburn. The complicated transaction involved several parties from the municipalities to the landowners to the railroad. Kasson focused on the transaction over the phone with counsel from the other parties up until minutes before
his son was born.

He also worked on easements and other requirements necessary in a DuPage forest preserve to help bring in pipelines to make Lake Michigan water available in parts of Will County.

Read the rest of the article published by Leading Lawyers Magazine – Real Estate, Construction & Environmental Edition for 2018.