Sunday, March 28, 2010

Vacant Land Checklist (Short Form)

There are many things to consider before choosing a property to develop or build a home on. My "short form" checklist is helpful to quickly evaluate sites. There is a much longer one that explores a host of additional issues but this one works well for an initial evaluation.

Remember, there are no perfect properties. The idea to keep in mind as you fill out the list is, "Can I build what I want to on this site without great difficulty?"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Subdivision Process

While every City or County may have its own unique process of subdividing property, most follow a similar general format. I have tried to layout how a typical plot of property might make its way from raw land to finished residential lots.

From Wikipedia
Subdivision is the act of dividing land into pieces that are easier to sell or otherwise develop, usually via a plat. The former single piece as a whole is then known as a subdivision in the United States. If it is used for housing it is typically known as a housing subdivision or housing development, although some developers tend to call these areas communities.
Subdivisions may also be for the purpose of commercial or industrial development, and the results vary from retail malls with independently owned out parcels to industrial parks.

The Subdivision Process

Phase I: Feasibility & Preliminary Preparation
• Review and Research Existing Data & Maps. Recon by consultants as necessary (wetlands, soils etc)
• Initial review of Zoning, Access, Topography, Utilities, Market
• Meet with Jurisdictions
• Preliminary Proforma & Schedule
• Internal Feasibility Results. Proceed or Halt project
• Initial Planning, Hire Engineer
• Field Work (at least enough for submittal): Survey, Mapping, Prelim. Engr., Critical Area review
Action Item: Decide on project feasibility. Prepare Pre-App package, Schedule Pre-App mtg.

Phase II: Pre-Application Meeting
• Submit Pre-App package. Meet with Jurisdiction. Discuss initial findings, potential obstacles & options.
• Post meeting: review possible revisions, variances, or re-designs options
• Hire other professionals (geotech, wetland bio, traffic, landscape arch, etc)
• Applicant could skip the pre-application meeting and move straight to preliminary submittal depending upon jurisdiction and project type
Action Item: Submit Pre-App Package (Application #1). Prepare Preliminary Submittal Package

Phase III: Preliminary Submittal to and Prelim. Approval
• Plat Submittal package and review by agencies planning department
• Complete application  equals a vested project*
• Additional information requests and redline comments
• Work with other jurisdictions (Water & Sewer District, PSE, DOE, etc)
• SEPA determination* (DNS, MDNS, DS EIS)
• Public Hearing
• Issue Preliminary Plat approval with (subject to) conditions
Action Item: Submit Package (Application #2). Respond/Address Jurisdiction comments

Phase IV: Engineering Review
• Engineer will technically design plans for all roads, utilities and other infrastructure to serve project
• Enter development Extension agreements with purveyors
• Approved Engineering plans issued for construction
Action Item: Submit Engineering drawings (Application #3) & redlines

Phase V: Site work construction
• Infrastructure construction
• As-built work & final inspection upon completion with each jurisdiction (Bond as necessary)
Action Item: Hire contractor. Site Inspection & Approval

Phase VI: Final Review & Recording
• Prepare Final Plat maps
• Lot Corner staking
• Redline corrections
• Bond & Final Recording
Action Item: Prepare Final Plat map, Bond & Record

Thanks to Cramer NW for their contribution to this list.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Citizens' Alliance for Property Rights Meeting

Thursday, March 4th: I'll be speaking at the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights montly meeting. I'll be leading the discussion on innovative land use topics in King County. Come join us at 7:00pm

King County CAPR is dedicated to the protection of private property and the rights of property owners.
The King County Chapter meets at 7:00 PM on the first Thursday of each month at the Issaquah IHOP Restaurant located at 1433 NW Sammamish Rd. Issaquah, WA.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Starbard picked to direct DDES

March 2, 2010
Daily Journal of Commerce
SEATTLE — King County Executive Dow Constantine appointed former Newcastle City Manager John Starbard as director of the Department of Development and Environmental Services.
The appointment must be confirmed by the King County Council.
DDES issues building and land use permits for properties in unincorporated King County. Constantine said in a press release that he wants to reduce the processing time for permit applications.
While at Newcastle, Starbard worked on upgrading Coal Creek Parkway and making downtown into a walkable urban village. He helped manage incorporation of Maple Valley, and was its first city manager. Starbard worked as a planner and senior management analyst for Bellevue.
Starbard will manage a budget of nearly $22 million and a staff of about 150.