Pick up a copy of your community’s subdivision and development regulations that pertain to the area where you want to develop. This is usually a substantial book or binder that contains all the current regulations, voted on by the city or county commission.
Get your name on the agenda at your local commission meeting. Approval to develop land usually rests with a city commission if the land in question is within city limits or a county commission if the property is outside the city’s jurisdiction. Alternately, the community may have its own housing board.
Present your preliminary idea to the commission for feedback. This is an important first step, since the community’s housing and business needs will influence the likelihood of approval. In addition, the commissioners can offer suggestions that will save you time and money. Alternately, call one or more commissioners at home for advice.
Study the land development regulations and design your project with adherence to as many rules as possible. Watershed issues are usually a top priority, as well as compliance with adequate utility provisions and sewage assessment.
Develop a monetary budget of costs to develop the land. Before your project receives approval, numerous professional entities may contribute to the process. A survey crew will make a study of the current land topography, and an architectural firm will render a proposed plat (a plan for a piece of land with actual or proposed features), featuring all the elements of the finished development. These services are very expensive.
Consult the city or county commission about participating in a portion of the development costs. This is a common method to make land development more affordable. The board may assist in the construction of roadways and drainage and in return will assess a special tax to recoup its investment. In a residential subdivision, new homeowners would pay a set amount, included in their property taxes, each year.
Take your final proposal to the appropriate board for approval. If you’ve worked with them throughout the process, you have a better chance of success. By the time you reach this point, you’ve invested a lot of time and money in the project. Present it with confidence and enthusiasm.
Get started on the physical phase of your land development. Once you receive approval, you may begin installing roads, utilities and drainage systems. If your project is large, consider hiring a project manager to oversee contractors and ensure compliance with ordinances.