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The Process - Land Development


The Process

As mentioned in many other pages of this website, transitioning a piece of property from discovery and acquisition to construction and sales is a very complicated and time consuming process. Below is a general outline of the most significant stages in the land development process. When reading this information, please recognize that some tasks can be performed simultaneously, while others are prerequisites to the next.



As with any real estate venture, location is the golden rule. That rule is most obvious when searching out property in urban centers for commercial development, but it may not be so obvious when considering residential ventures in the suburban fringes and beyond. It can be easy to predict success when locating available waterfront property or areas with unique natural features such as vegetation or topography. The challenge comes when evaluating the potential of vast acreages of silviculture lands (commercial timber) commonly found in northeast Florida. With that in mind, it is important to perform extensive market analysis and carefully study trending growth patterns in order to stay ahead of the curve and negotiate parcels of land that will prove to be successful developments in the future before availability disappears.



Due Diligence

With the soaring cost of land, buyers almost always require that a due diligence period be granted by the seller. Depending on how much official documentation can be provided by the seller, this period can last anywhere from thirty days to six months, allowing the potential buyer to study the property and identify any and all factors related to the property. Such factors may include environmental contamination, archeological findings, endangered wildlife habitats, protected wetlands, land use, zoning, planning, etc. It is only after this detailed investigation is complete that potential buyers can minimize their risk and make an educated decision on whether to close on the property.


Land Use Amendments

Growth management has become a very sensitive issue in the state of Florida as urban populations have migrated farther into surrounding rural areas over the years. To manage this situation, statewide legislation was passed requiring counties to draft and adopt a Future Land Use Map (FLUM). These maps chart what state and local agencies deem as the most appropriate pattern of growth and preservation for a particular municipality.

Land developers usually identify the subject parcel’s Future Land Use in the due diligence period, and if it doesn’t allow for the proposed development type, an amendment to the FLUM is necessary. This process can take up to a year to complete due to a series of public hearings at the local level and additional administrative review at the state level.



Zoning districts usually correspond with their superseding Land Use; therefore, if it necessary to file for an amendment to the FLUM in order to develop a particular project type, then it is probable that rezoning is necessary as well. Rarely is the rezoning process as time-consuming as those involving land use changes because it is handled entirely at the local level. It generally takes about two to three months for a traditional rezoning. When attempting to rezone to a PUD (Planned Unit Development) district, one can expect the process to last up to six months due to the additional departmental review involved with this uniquely flexible zoning category.



With property more appropriately zoned for its anticipated use, the conceptual site plan, usually drafted in the due diligence period, can now be designed to the highest level of detail. This is done through careful coordination amongst a talented team of licensed professionals (i.e. land planners, architects, civil and environmental engineers, landscape architects, etc.). Depending on the size and complexity of the given project, this team will work anywhere from two to six months to compile a construction drawing package from which everything will be permitted and built.



It is probably safe to say that Florida has the most stringent environmental policies of any state in the nation. With that being the case, numerous sets of construction drawings are required to be dispersed among and reviewed by countless agencies and departments in order to obtain the necessary permits necessary to begin construction on a development project.

Permits are necessary for a wide range of issues (i.e. wetland impacts, storm water management, endangered wildlife protection and relocation, utility connections, vehicular access management, etc.), and some are harder to obtain than others. Those involving protected wetland impacts typically take the longest, possibly taking as long as ten to twelve months in cases requiring review by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Timelines generally shrink as you ramp down from the federal level to the local level, but two weeks is probably the benchmark minimum for obtaining any particular permit, no matter how minor the issue.

After all of these stages are complete, site construction can begin and what once was only concept and vision begins to take form. Construction can pose its own sets of obstacles due to unforeseeable site conditions, so it is important that a highly qualified contractor be selected and that there be constant communication with he and his crew. But after months and possibly years of policy and process, the construction of roads, houses, and amenities can prove to be very gratifying and financially rewarding as finished product is delivered to market.

We hope that this section has been educational in identifying and detailing the major stages and moving pieces found throughout the land development process. We at Property Disposition One have surrounded ourselves with an experienced network of associates and consultants to make sure that projects progress through that process as smoothly as can be expected. If you are a property owner and are looking to explore all options and challenges that your land presents, we ask that you consider our proven development team in assisting you with that venture.


The Regulatory Body

Below is a list of federal, state, and local agencies and municipalities that govern the various aspects of the land development process in northeast Florida. Please visit their websites by clicking the icons to learn more about the roles and primary concerns of each authoritative body.


    United States Army Corps of Engineers


    Environmental Protection Agency


        St. Johns River Water Management District


    Florida Department of Environmental Protection


   Florida Department of Community Affairs


    Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council



      Florida Department of Transportation

    Jacksonville Electric Authority



    Florida Power and Light

    City of Jacksonville, Florida


    St. Johns County, Florida


        Nassau County, Florida


    Clay County, Florida

   Baker County


    Flagler County



    Camden County



    St Mary's



   Florida Historical Society





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