By Zachary W. Lombardo, Esq.
When doing business in Florida, it is important to not only verify that zoning laws allow for the use you intend at the commercial property you would like to buy or lease by obtaining a Zoning Verification Letter, but it is also essential to familiarize yourself with any existing site development plans or any requirement to create a site development plan for the property as part of any redevelopment.
Site Development Plans
Florida commercial real estate is often built out pursuant to a site development plan approved by a local government. This is a planning document that a local government, such as a county or city, reviews to ensure the many land-use requirements have been met. But the document in and of itself becomes a form of land-use regulation in that if you would like to change the layout of commercial real estate subject to a site development plan or if you would like to change the uses at the site, you may have to amend the site development plan first. For example, parking is usually calculated based on uses, so if you would like to change the uses, that may change the parking required, and that would require an update to the site development plan, and perhaps a physical modification to the parking provided at the site.
Local governments have different levels of review to amend site development plans. For example, some allow for administrative amendments that involve no public hearings. Others, however, will require more public involvement. Understanding what is required helps substantially in determining whether what you would like to do with property is possible and how long it will take.
Thus, it is important to condition the purchase or lease of real estate in Florida on being able to amend the site development plan as you would like. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a position where you own land and cannot build what you would like.
Older Developments and Site Improvement Plans
Another thing to keep in mind is that some local governments require site development plans to be generated for older sites that were developed without site development plans before new work can be done on these sites. In some areas, these are called site improvement plans. These plans can be difficult to work through because older sites are often composed of non-conformities and often times developing these site development or improvement plans involves getting variances and/or deviations from the current code requirements. Local governments provide different levels of accommodations for these older sites.
Thus, it is important to check with the local government before purchasing or leasing commercial real estate to see if a site development plan exists, and if it does not, what, if anything, would trigger the requirement to create one.
Talk to Our Florida Land Use & Zoning Lawyers
Should you have any questions about local government or land use & zoning, please feel free to contact any of the attorneys listed below:
Zachary W. Lombardo is a Naples native and an associate attorney at Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. His Juris Doctorate is from the Florida State University College of Law. He focuses his land use, zoning, business, contract drafting, and litigation practice in the Southwest Florida community.
Lenore T. Brakefield is a Naples native and partner at Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. Her Juris Doctorate is from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Lenore focuses her law practice on civil and commercial litigation and is experienced in construction litigation matters, as well as local government law, code enforcement violations, community association law, real estate law and transactional matters. Additionally, Lenore is a Certified Financial Litigator by The American Academy for Certified Financial Litigators.
Anthony P. Pires, Jr., B.C.S. is a partner at Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. and a Board Certified Specialist by The Florida Bar in City, County & Local Government Law. He represents numerous public and governmental entities, special districts, concerned citizens and private sector clients throughout Collier and Lee Counties in Local Government Law, Land Use and Zoning Law, and Government Relations.
Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A.
3200 Tamiami Trail N, Ste 200
Naples, FL 34103
Marco Island Office:
606 Bald Eagle Dr, Ste 500
Marco Island, FL 34145