The Process - Land Development
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
States Army Corps of Engineers
Department of Environmental Protection
Department of Community Affairs
Florida Regional Planning Council
Department of Transportation
Power and Light
of Jacksonville, Florida
Johns County, Florida