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Navigating the site plan review process

A site plan assesses the potential impact of a development on the community. Local municipalities usually require this review, which considers layouts and designs. Real estate developers and landowners rely on approval to move forward with projects. Site plan reviews are also important in protecting resources and following zoning requirements.

Many factors can make site plan reviews challenging. There are ways to maximize your chance of receiving an approval.

Know your audience

It takes careful consideration when choosing a location for a project, and when designing a presentation. Be sure to research the area's zoning ordinances and the community's development history. Network with city planners and business owners. Learn more about the board members. Get a feel for what usually receives approval before starting a site plan. Compare your vision to other surrounding developments.

Be thorough

Site plans are reviewed to assure that landscaping, layout and structures meet zoning standards. For this reason, planning needs to be thorough and all-encompassing. All drawings and documents in the proposal must comply with local, state and federal regulations. Therefore, everything needs to be included, such as:

  • Streets
  • Utilities
  • Lot lines
  • Open spaces
  • Landscaping
  • Building sites
  • Existing structures

There are many moving parts in the site plan approval process. From submission, to public hearings and modifications, the procedures can get complex. Since the process could take months, it is important to properly manage time and avoid mistakes. Research, legal counsel and careful planning cuts down the risk of a denial.

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