A Tale of Two Localities and Two Philosophies


By. Neil Williamson, Presidentstack of documents

In today’s banking environment, increased documentation is required  prior to a loan even being processed.  One of the documents required is designed to prove the property has proper zoning for the planned use.

“By Right” means the use planned for the site is already permitted under the existing zoning on the site.

A True Story –

An established developer contacted Albemarle County regarding a “by right” commercial project.  He needed a zoning compliance letter to secure the financing for the project.  The zoning department took 45 days to issue the letter.

Same developer had another “by right” commercial project in another Virginia locality (an independent city of comparable size).  In the second case, the bank required a zoning compliance letter and a plan of development certification letter.  On Monday, the developer sent an e-mail requesting the documents and dropped a check in the mail for the appropriate fees.  The very next morning he received the required signed documents via fax – before the check even arrived at the zoning shop.

The developer calculated the carry cost saving for the expedited process (instead of 45 days) to be in excess of $35,000 which can be put back in to the city in development hard costs (materials, jobs) rather than burned as interest.  Even if not rolled back into the project the cost savings has a positive influence on the bottom line (and impact on future rent costs).

This is but a small example, repeated across localities every day.

approved stamp Which locality was more business friendly? 

Considering both were approved, was the public better served in one locality over the other?

What processes could your locality streamline that would result in decreased carry costs while still protecting the public?

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