Experienced property developers know that there are many steps to take before you break ground on a new development. One of the most important is obtaining a planning permit. Also known as a zoning or land-use permit, a planning permit is confirmation from your local planning office that your development is allowed. However, the application process can be complicated, and any mistakes will delay your project. In this guide, we outline essential steps to navigate the planning permit application process.

Carry Out Preliminary Research

It all starts with getting to know your neighborhood, or at least your local planning office and the zoning rules of your development location. Each jurisdiction has its own unique zoning laws. These zoning laws regulate what can be built and where. They’ll stipulate whether you can build a high-rise apartment, a detached house, or maybe a shopping center. Spending some quality time with your local zoning ordinance will help you become familiar with the local zoning rules and restrictions, ensuring your development aligns with them.

Schedule a Pre-application Meeting

While not required, scheduling a pre-application meeting can help identify potential roadblocks early, preventing unnecessary hitches and delays. Schedule a pre-application meeting with the local planning department staff. This informal meeting is an opportunity for you to discuss your plans and get preliminary feedback on the project’s feasibility. Before scheduling the meeting, ensure you understand the local zoning laws and have detailed information about your project idea.

Submit Your Application

After the pre-application meeting, you can start preparing your formal application. Any feedback from the meeting can be used to refine your idea, site plans, and architectural drawings. Include environmental impact reports if required, based on the project’s nature and location. In your pre-application meeting, you can ask for a list of all the required documents since this varies from city to city.

Wait for the Review Process to Be Completed

This step requires patience, as the review process can be time-consuming. During this process, the planning department assesses every detail of your proposal. In addition to checking that your project complies with the necessary zoning regulations, they will also check it against environmental regulations, housing policies, and other relevant laws.

If there are any issues, the planning department will let you know, allowing you to make the necessary revisions.

Receive the Decision

If your project is perceived as having significant community impact or needs a zoning variance, the planning department may schedule a public hearing. A zoning variance is a request to deviate from the current zoning requirements. At the public hearing, the community and other stakeholders are given a chance to voice their thoughts or objections. Following the hearing, a decision will be made to either approve or reject your application. Note that approval may come with conditions that must be adhered to.

Implement or Appeal the Decision

If your application is approved, congratulations; you can now move forward with implementing your project, while adhering to the conditions of approval throughout your project. If your application is rejected, or includes conditions you don’t agree with, you might have an opportunity to appeal the decision. There might be a limited timeframe for initiating the appeal process, so it is wise not to delay submitting an appeal.

Regardless of your experience, consulting with professionals experienced in urban planning and land use law is always a good idea. If your city or local council already uses Archistar’s eCheck technology, the planning permit process can be simplified and made more efficient. Design files can be submitted digitally, and more importantly, the system can automatically evaluate your submission. It will digitally assess your submission against your city’s codes and regulations, providing a pass or fail result. You can then modify and resubmit your application for full review.

Encourage your local planning department to request an eCheck demo to understand how it can benefit your city and fast-track approvals.