Apr12The land development process can be complicated.

Land Development is defined within the Municipal Planning Code in PA as, “The improvement of one lot or two or more contiguous lots, tracts or parcels of land for any purpose involving:

(i) a group of two or more residential or nonresidential buildings, whether proposed initially or cumulatively, or a single nonresidential building on a lot or lots regardless of the number of occupants or tenure; or

(ii) the division or allocation of land or space, whether initially or cumulatively, between or among two or more existing or prospective occupants by means of, or for the purpose of streets, common areas, leaseholds, condominiums, building groups or other features.

It is the process of taking a piece of property and developing into a residential or commercial lot.  I have served on the Planning Commission in Upper Saucon Township since 2006.  I have also reviewed countless zoning ordinances and building codes in my professional reviews of building projects.  Though many in the building industry see the ordinances as inundating and burdensome, from my experience, they are just another piece in the land development process that need to be addressed.  They serve as a guideline to how land may be used in that specific region.  The key is for the design team to actually read them and understand them.

Every ordinance does not always work in an Owner’s favor.  There are times that a variance may be needed to make a project work effectively to meet an Owner’s needs.  Designers need to understand the ordinances so that they can work with the Township to come to a compromise that satisfies both parties.  Sometimes the variance needed makes the project more successful, and a Township may see the vision behind it and approve it.  But if a architect or designer does not understand how ordinances work, the project has less of a chance of being received positively.  Ordinances are in place to help communities guide the development in their Townships to protect the citizens from poor development choices, making sure a homeowner does not have to live next to a “toxic” or inappropriate use without reasonable buffers or allow a use that would significantly increase traffic in an area that cannot handle the excess without major improvements.

I have seen development from both sides of the table, and as a client, you should know that SCFA approaches a project, attempting to understand all of the parameters from the beginning.  There are less surprises down the road that way.

If you are in need of advice related to your property and its zoning restrictions and opportunities, first contact your Township or Borough.  Then give us a call!

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