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10 Things Developers Should Consider Before Developing a Subdivision

As any developer can attest, developing a subdivision is no small task. It is a time-consuming process which requires patience, capital, and above all, good planning. This article will address 10 things developers should consider before beginning any work on a subdivision.

  1. Zoning- A proposed subdivision plat should comply with a municipality’s zoning ordinance, land use map, as well as the comprehensive plan. If a proposal does not comply with existing zoning ordinances, a developer may need to seek rezoning or a variance. It is important to know this ahead of time in order to properly plan and budget. Zoning ordinances can be long and detailed and cover everything from yard requirements, setbacks, lot sizes, and more. No developer wants to get too far ahead of the project only to learn that significant portions of what was originally planned must be revised because of noncompliance with zoning. Likewise, if the development is meant to be a Planned Unit Development (PUD), the proposal must comply with any PUD ordinances.
  2. Annexation Agreements- A developer should also consider whether any municipal annexation agreements apply to the property. These agreements should come up in a title search but it does not hurt to double check with County or Municipal officials to see whether any such agreements exist but were not recorded. Annexation agreements may impose special requirements on the subject property, so it is important to determine whether one exists.
  3. Intergovernmental Agreements- Municipalities sometimes enter into agreements with other municipalities. Such agreements may affect anything from boundaries to various restrictions on the use of land. As with annexation agreements, it is important to inquire into the existence of any such agreements.
  4. Restrictions that run with the land- It should go without saying, but any covenants or restrictions that run with the land should be highlighted. Such restrictions should be recorded in order to be binding. Therefore, it should be fairly simple to ascertain whether these types of restrictions exist.

In addition to these general considerations, each state may impose unique hurdles. In Illinois, for example, developers should consider the following:

  1. Soil conditions- Illinois has a statute called the Soil and Water Conservation Districts Act which seeks to promote the conservation of soil and water resources in certain parts of the state. If a developer seeks to develop property in a conservation district, it may be required to provide a copy of the developer’s petition to the conservation district for review.
  2. Floodplains and Wetlands- Certain Illinois statutes like the Rivers, Lakes, and Streams Act prohibit new construction in a 100-year floodway. Any developer seeking to build in any flood plain should consider whether certain floodplain restrictions exist. In addition, any project involving “navigable waters” or “wetlands” may also require a permit from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
  3. Stormwater- Developers should also be aware of any stormwater management statutes as well as county stormwater management commissions. These should be consulted to determine whether a project has any impact on stormwater management.
  4. Groundwater- Likewise, Illinois statutes like the Water Use Act, should be consulted to determine any applicability to a proposed development.
  5. Endangered species- In addition to the federal Endangered Species Act, Illinois also has an “Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act” which requires various state agencies to consult with one another regarding any possible threat to an endangered species.
  6. Historic Preservation- Finally, a developer should also be aware of the Illinois Historic Preservation Act. It is important to know whether a proposed development affects in any way property which is protected by historic preservation laws.

These are some of the more common considerations developers should evaluate early on. Depending on the location or nature of the development, additional considerations may also come into play. If you have any questions regarding the due diligence developers should employ, do not hesitate to contact the land use attorneys at Dalton & Tomich, P.C.

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