Despite today’s economic reality, real estate developers should consider the unique opportunities of pursuing land use entitlements now. While there is expense entailed in pursuing annexation, zoning, subdivision and related approvals, many jurisdictions are experiencing a significant drop in tax and fee revenues due to reduced development activity. Accordingly, developers who are able to pursue land use entitlements during this difficult economy may find these jurisdictions more responsive to development proposals than they historically have been.
Although obtaining entitlements now may be “early” (end users or the ultimate land plan may be unknown), jurisdictions have been recognizing such circumstances and the need for flexible zoning that will allow for diverse development opportunities. Planned Unit Development (PUD) or similar zoning can provide for standards that differ from the jurisdiction’s generally applicable zoning or technical standards to accommodate a variety of users.
Because there are fewer development applications being submitted today, applications may be processed in an abbreviated period of time. And, as it traditionally may take years to process and obtain final approval of complete land use entitlements, there is no better time than the present to initiate that process.