Issues in Land Use Law & Zoning

Hitting the Restart Button

January 8th, 2014

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With the start of an economic recovery in much of the country, developers in many communities face the question of how to restart projects that have lied fallow or failed as a result of the great recession. For those developers who now have the ability to acquire these developments, there are many avenues and approaches to help move the projects forward again. But there are also legal considerations that come into play. As in all my columns, while I want to provide you with some general background, please consult an attorney in your own jurisdiction for more specific advice taking into account your state and local laws and requirements.

reset buttonInitially, a developer seeking to revive a dormant or failed project will determine whether the desired property is the subject of an annexation or development agreement. Many development projects are governed by such an agreements, which also be recorded against the property.

Many states, such as California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, and Nevada, have adopted statutes authorizing local governments to enter into development agreements. These statutes generally outline a development agreement process culminating in the execution of the agreement between the developer and local government that freezes in place, for a limited period of time, the zoning rules specified in the agreement.

The process typically includes a requirement for initial authorization by a local law, with public notice and hearing requirements, before any agreement is adopted. In that the development/annexation agreement, is in essence a contract between the municipality and the developer, it is critical that both parties closely examine it to determine their respective obligations.

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Dan ShapiroDan Shapiro is a partner with the law firm of Robbins, Salomon and Patt, Ltd in Chicago, Illinois. He practices in the areas of land use, zoning, governmental relations, municipal law, and civil litigation.

Dan represents a wide variety of private developers as well as governmental entities and advises his clients closely on issues of concern. As part of his practice, he has successfully presented legislative and administrative matters before plan commissions, zoning boards, and other village, city, and county bodies.

Dan also is an adjunct professor teaching land use at Kent Law School in Chicago, and is the Chairman of the Village of Deerfield (Illinois) Plan Commission.

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