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Back to the Drawing Board: When Projects Require Site Plan Revisions


No commercial development project goes from planning to completion without a hiccup or two. From multiple site plan revisions to meeting various municipal requirements, these types of projects can be time-consuming and costly. Your project’s planning phase may include dozens of zoning and design variations to meet all the requirements from the municipalities. 

Because numerous municipal entities will likely review a project’s plans, the results may include different interpretations, comments, and revisions. This stage may also become convoluted due to staffing changes and the assigned planner being changed.

So what happens when you find yourself faced with handling constant changes? 

Here are a few ways to be proactive in minimizing overall expenses and delays, even when rework is inevitable.


Be Cognizant of Project Fees and Timelines

In addition to the obvious labor and materials costs, you should be aware of unexpected costs from the start, such as resubmittal fees, change orders, and remediation. Trying to mesh so many complex and often conflicting ordinances and requirements can set the development review process back for months.

Address what is absolutely necessary to meet project timelines and costs if numerous site plan revisions are required. It’s important to sufficiently plan for how municipality review will impact project schedule.


Understand the Applicable Criteria

Although it can vary across municipalities, typically major changes to the permitted construction plans are required to be resubmitted to its land development division, where it’s handled at the discretion of the inspector supervisor. 

Familiarize yourself with the potential reasons for revision, which include but are not limited to:

  • Unforeseen conflicts

  • Changes due to adjacent properties

  • Ownership changes

  • Schedule changes due to delays  


Minimize the Impact

Much of the frustration related to land development review and approval involves the complexity of the process, coupled with the lack of information about what the steps are. 

As a best practice measure, you should meet in-person with municipal staff involved to help determine the necessary requirements to obtain approvals. 

Another tip may be sitting down with any engineers or architects that have worked with that particular municipality before to shed some light on their experience.

A lucrative avenue for diminishing this challenge would be to use a third-party plan review and inspection service provider, which are qualified within their jurisdiction. The advantage of doing so is that their programs provide more thorough inspections and efficient performance standards, while public agencies may have staff that is overloaded, therefore causing longer turnaround times.   

The development process will likely always require the entire team to go back to the drawing board. There’s no way to avoid that. Working with a trusted developer that finds ways to work more effectively and efficiently will greatly reduce the amount of the setbacks caused by continual site plan revisions. 


Municipality Issues Site Plan Review Tenant

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