Plan for Success with the Entitlement Development Process

For many construction projects, owning a piece of land doesn’t mean you can develop it any way you want. Depending on the location and purpose of the project, approval is needed from local government agencies. But before approval is given, other steps must be completed first. This is known as the entitlement development process or land use entitlement process.

The bulk of tasks developers need to complete revolve around collecting the required “entitlements.” These are legal rights to develop land in the way you choose, such as for a commercial storefront or industrial facility. The entitlements a project needs to progress depends on how the finished building affects the surrounding community.

To receive approval, the project may need to fit into the city’s larger urban planning goals or maintain a certain aesthetic. Additional entitlements may be needed if the building’s function affects the public in other ways, such as the safety or environmental impacts. In general, some of the most important steps in the process include:

  • Master Planning
  • Rezoning
  • Special Use Permits
  • Preliminary Development Plans

McClure can navigate the development entitlement process on behalf of developers, property owners, and more. Continue below for more information about key entitlements and why they’re necessary before you can break ground.

Master Planning

Master plans are one of the most important parts of the process, demonstrating to local government bodies that a construction project fits into the city’s long-term goals for growth. If an aspect of the project could disrupt those plans, the master planner will need to present how those problems can be resolved.

Drafting a high-quality master plan is best with collaboration from both public and private entities, such as the fire department, utility company, mayor’s office, and more. In fact, many of these entities can halt progress on development if the project impedes some aspect of their duties. By working with them early in the process, developers can keep things moving consistently.

These plans aren’t necessarily set in stone and can be adjusted as the city reassesses what it needs to reach its goals. When successful, these plans accomplish a wide range of things, including:

  • Determines all short- and long-term goals of the finished project
  • Attracts additional private investment, if needed
  • Engages the local community for public opinion and support
  • Establishes what the plan should prioritize first
  • Enables decision-makers and other influential personnel to make clear and consistent progress

Rezoning

Each piece of land is zoned for a specific purpose. Broader categories such as residential, commercial, and industrial zoning are determined first, followed by more specific information such as whether a piece of residential property will be zoned for homes or multistory apartment buildings. If the current zone can’t accommodate a building’s function, size, infrastructure, or similar aspect, a rezoning request can be filed.

But rezoning is the not the only way to proceed with a project that doesn’t meet the land’s zoning requirements. Some landowners or developers request zoning variances, which allow them to bypass restrictions that would otherwise prevent construction. For example, if a piece of land is not zoned for the project’s required amount of parking, a variance would allow developers to move forward with additional parking spots regardless of local regulations.

To receive a zoning variance, developers usually have to prove that unique circumstances are preventing a key aspect of the project’s intended function, and that these circumstances are out of the developers’ control.

Special Use Permits

Special use permits are similar to zoning variances in that they allow land to be used in ways it’s not zoned for. A key difference, however, is that special use permits are only provided if the project adjusts construction to meet other conditions. As long as the conditions are satisfied, the permit will be granted. In fact, many local governments will adjust regulations so that projects facing similar challenges can progress more fluidly.

A common special use permit is for the construction of schools or religious buildings in residential areas. As long as these buildings make the necessary accommodations, they can proceed with construction.

Preliminary Development Plans

In order to approve a project, a city’s planning committee needs confirmation that the building meets all relevant codes, laws, or other legal barriers to construction. A comprehensive preliminary development plan compiles all this information in a format that’s easier for the committee to read.

If problems appear as the planning committee reviews the primary development plan, they’ll provide comments and suggest changes be made to the plan. The engineer or team responsible for drafting the plan will make the necessary changes before resubmitting the plan as a final proposal.

Other Examples of Entitlements

While these entitlements are important, they only represent a small number of the possible entitlements any construction project may need to progress. Generally, the more involved a city is with its urban planning and the development of a cohesive aesthetic, the more entitlements will be needed. Some other examples of entitlements include:

Utility approvals: If land doesn’t have existing utilities for the building to use, approval is needed for new utility infrastructure to be built. Easements may be needed to ensure workers can reach these utilities for maintenance.

Road approvals: The construction of new roads must also be approved if the land doesn’t already have them. Approval may be dependent on making sure new roads don’t impede local traffic or cause collisions.

Landscaping: Entitlements for landscape design may concern water usage, aesthetic value, or concerns for invasive species. Landscaping should complement the surrounding properties.

Occupancy permits: Some buildings have large occupancy limits, like stadiums or schools. To avoid disastrous traffic jams or fire code violations, cities require occupancy permits.

Plan for Success with the Entitlement Development Process

For many construction projects, owning a piece of land doesn’t mean you can develop it any way you want. Depending on the location and purpose of the project, approval is needed from local government agencies. But before approval is given, other steps must be completed first. This is known as the entitlement development process or land use entitlement process.

The bulk of tasks developers need to complete revolve around collecting the required “entitlements.” These are legal rights to develop land in the way you choose, such as for a commercial storefront or industrial facility. The entitlements a project needs to progress depends on how the finished building affects the surrounding community.

To receive approval, the project may need to fit into the city’s larger urban planning goals or maintain a certain aesthetic. Additional entitlements may be needed if the building’s function affects the public in other ways, such as the safety or environmental impacts. In general, some of the most important steps in the process include:

  • Master Planning
  • Rezoning
  • Special Use Permits
  • Preliminary Development Plans

McClure can navigate the development entitlement process on behalf of developers, property owners, and more. Continue below for more information about key entitlements and why they’re necessary before you can break ground.

Master Planning

Master plans are one of the most important parts of the process, demonstrating to local government bodies that a construction project fits into the city’s long-term goals for growth. If an aspect of the project could disrupt those plans, the master planner will need to present how those problems can be resolved.

Drafting a high-quality master plan is best with collaboration from both public and private entities, such as the fire department, utility company, mayor’s office, and more. In fact, many of these entities can halt progress on development if the project impedes some aspect of their duties. By working with them early in the process, developers can keep things moving consistently.

These plans aren’t necessarily set in stone and can be adjusted as the city reassesses what it needs to reach its goals. When successful, these plans accomplish a wide range of things, including:

  • Determines all short- and long-term goals of the finished project
  • Attracts additional private investment, if needed
  • Engages the local community for public opinion and support
  • Establishes what the plan should prioritize first
  • Enables decision-makers and other influential personnel to make clear and consistent progress

Rezoning

Each piece of land is zoned for a specific purpose. Broader categories such as residential, commercial, and industrial zoning are determined first, followed by more specific information such as whether a piece of residential property will be zoned for homes or multistory apartment buildings. If the current zone can’t accommodate a building’s function, size, infrastructure, or similar aspect, a rezoning request can be filed.

But rezoning is the not the only way to proceed with a project that doesn’t meet the land’s zoning requirements. Some landowners or developers request zoning variances, which allow them to bypass restrictions that would otherwise prevent construction. For example, if a piece of land is not zoned for the project’s required amount of parking, a variance would allow developers to move forward with additional parking spots regardless of local regulations.

To receive a zoning variance, developers usually have to prove that unique circumstances are preventing a key aspect of the project’s intended function, and that these circumstances are out of the developers’ control.

Special Use Permits

Special use permits are similar to zoning variances in that they allow land to be used in ways it’s not zoned for. A key difference, however, is that special use permits are only provided if the project adjusts construction to meet other conditions. As long as the conditions are satisfied, the permit will be granted. In fact, many local governments will adjust regulations so that projects facing similar challenges can progress more fluidly.

A common special use permit is for the construction of schools or religious buildings in residential areas. As long as these buildings make the necessary accommodations, they can proceed with construction.

Preliminary Development Plans

In order to approve a project, a city’s planning committee needs confirmation that the building meets all relevant codes, laws, or other legal barriers to construction. A comprehensive preliminary development plan compiles all this information in a format that’s easier for the committee to read.

If problems appear as the planning committee reviews the primary development plan, they’ll provide comments and suggest changes be made to the plan. The engineer or team responsible for drafting the plan will make the necessary changes before resubmitting the plan as a final proposal.

Other Examples of Entitlements

While these entitlements are important, they only represent a small number of the possible entitlements any construction project may need to progress. Generally, the more involved a city is with its urban planning and the development of a cohesive aesthetic, the more entitlements will be needed. Some other examples of entitlements include:

Utility approvals: If land doesn’t have existing utilities for the building to use, approval is needed for new utility infrastructure to be built. Easements may be needed to ensure workers can reach these utilities for maintenance.

Road approvals: The construction of new roads must also be approved if the land doesn’t already have them. Approval may be dependent on making sure new roads don’t impede local traffic or cause collisions.

Landscaping: Entitlements for landscape design may concern water usage, aesthetic value, or concerns for invasive species. Landscaping should complement the surrounding properties.

Occupancy permits: Some buildings have large occupancy limits, like stadiums or schools. To avoid disastrous traffic jams or fire code violations, cities require occupancy permits.

WHERE WE MAKE AN IMPACT

 

McClure completes the entitlement development process on your behalf, generating the preliminary development plan and securing all entitlements and permits needed to start construction.

WHERE WE MAKE AN IMPACT

 

  • Licensed in 48 States plus D.C.
  • Engineer of Record Architectural Services
  • Full Building Systems Designed with Cold-Formed Steel (CFS)
  • Complex CFS Framing with Radiused Surfaces
  • Reinforced Concrete including Precast and Prestressed
  • Storm Shelters and Hardened Structures
  • Specially Designed CFS Roof and Floor Open Web Trusses
  • Non-Bearing CFS Cladding and Wall Systems
  • Historic Rehab and Repurposing
  • Blast and Progressive Collapse Resistant Structures (D.O.D.)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Structural Services
  • Value Engineering Solutions including Design Build Experience
  • Special Analysis – Vibration, Instrumentation, Testing, High Seismic, etc.
  • Structural Evaluations, Insurance and Property Assessments
  • Peer Reviews and Expert Witness
  • Modular and Prefabrication Design