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Entitlements: An Under-Utilized Process to Quickly Increase a Property’s Value – Part II

Our previous article gave an overview of the entitlement process. Now we’ll explore entitlement holders and what constitutes a fully entitled site.

Local Entitlement Holders

Entitlements start at the municipal level with the crucial step of zoning. It’s the cornerstone and foundation upon which other entitlements are built. In order to proceed with their work, engineers and other consultants rely on the zoning regulations to maximize density. After all, the value of a development is derived from the unit put on the land. So while engineering design proceeds to meet local subdivision requirements, other entitlements must be obtained to turn plans into a reality.

Water and sanitary sewer, a must for any development, may also require entitlement

approvals. While municipalities often provide water and sewer services for projects within their boundary, it’s increasingly common to encounter bifurcated water and sanitary sewer rights. These rights may require entitlement approvals that are autonomous from each other and from the local municipal control.

State and Regional Entitlement Holders

Since every development requires roads, a department of transportation permit that allows for ingress and egress rights is also necessary. Once the road is completed, it’s important to verify that the road complies with the governing jurisdiction’s requirements so that it will accept maintenance and perpetual responsibility for the road.

Stormwater entitlements should also be considered. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) controls the stormwater permitting process. A development disturbing one acre of land or more must submit for a disturbance permit as well as a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to manage all stormwater discharge points that leave a development site. The NPDES permit contains limits on what can be discharged from the site, well as monitoring and reporting points. In some areas, municipalities are charged with implementing Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits that include another layer of oversight for stormwater discharge.

Federal Entitlement Holders

The most common federal entitlement holder is the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE). When a piece of land is developed, the developer is required to have an official with the US Army Corp. of Engineers (“USACE”) inspect the site to ensure that no waters of the U.S. are impacted by the proposed development. If the USACE determines that waterways will be reasonably impacted, then mitigation credits must be purchased from a local mitigation bank to offset the impact of the proposed development.

Fully Entitled Site

A fully entitled site with all governmental approvals obtained from local, state, and federal jurisdictions and agencies is the end goal. Entitlements take time and expense. Lack of one entitlement can alter, delay, or kill a development project. Once entitlements are secured, however, the vested rights, with few exceptions, are transferable from one owner to the next. The potential to quickly create value with any parcel of land lies within the power of entitlements.

At Terramoor we have over twenty years of experience navigating entitlement issues. We regularly work with municipalities and other government agencies to bring your land to its fullest and best use. Contact us for any of your land and development needs.

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