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Land Use & Planning

FEASIBILITY STUDY & PLANNING IN EVERETT

Land Use & Planning in Everett, Seattle, Mukilteo, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Snohomish County and King County

This study is an analysis of the ability to complete a project successfully, taking into account geographic, legal, economic, technological, scheduling and other factors. The land planner may also perform the site design and layout. Rather than just diving into a project and hoping for the best, a feasibility study allows project managers to investigate the possible negative and positive outcomes of a project before investing too much time and money.

For example, if a private school wanted to expand its campus to alleviate overcrowding, it could conduct a feasibility study to determine whether to follow through. This study might look at where additions would be built, how much the expansion would cost, how the expansion would disrupt the school year, how students’ parents feel about the proposed expansion, how students feel about the proposed expansion, what local laws might affect the expansion, and so on.

Every land use project has an effect on the neighboring parcels and area. Depending on your point of view, the effect is positive, negative or neutral to you. Often the people proposing the project see the neighbors as “the enemy”, but I propose that you see the neighbors in a more neutral way, as the people they are being affected by the project.

By sharing information and talking with the neighbors it is possible to narrow down the items of concern and even make changes, sometimes very minimal that can have the benefit of easing the perceived negative effects. This does not always happen and we are not suggesting that meeting with neighbors or appellants will result in fast friendships. However, it does create an understanding that the project is not set in stone, concerns are listened to, and the facts are the topics being discussed.

The time, effort, and money that are invested put into a project should result in something that meets the codes and policies of the jurisdiction where it is proposed. It should therefore also be able to withstand critique of those immediately affected by it, the neighbors. It is not necessary to get everyone to like the proposal. The goal is to have people understand and be able to walk away with their concerns addressed, not catered to.

What I am suggesting in not always easy nor pleasant, but it will most times be worth the effort in creating a better project that has a greater chance of being approved. By inviting the neighbors you are putting yourself in a better position to control the process of your project.

The State of Washington passed Senate Bill 6544; it took effect on June 10, 2010. This bill extends the life of preliminary formal plats from 5 years to 7 years. The extra 2 years is expected to help some in the housing industry ride out the economic crisis. Giving builders and developers a longer time frame to complete their projects actually delays the need for construction of the plat improvements. This in turn delays the need for an immediate construction loan which is hard to come by these days.

It is hoped that the owners of these projects will be able to hold on to the land with the preliminary approval long enough for the market to return and the banks to loosen up on loaning money. Not all plat owners will be able to do that but the change in the law will help many.

The 2-year extension sunsets on December 31, 2014. Plats receiving preliminary approval after that date will have the standard 5-year time frame. Short plat and other land use actions that did not receive the extension and are not affected by the change in the State law. However, some jurisdictions have taken steps to change their own codes to extend time frames for many other actions. Check with individual jurisdictions for current time frames on land use actions you are interested in.