There is much opposition to new development in this world, some of it warranted, much of it not. This is one of the most difficult parts of the development process. Developers like to work on a level playing field but so much of what happens when plans materialize for previously undisturbed land is highly emotional and can become a political issue.
Two of the major opposition groups to developers are environmental groups and the classic NIMBYs. I’ve worked on development projects in the mountain resorts of Colorado and California. It’s amazing how much local sentiment can affect the ability to create new communities in certain locations. As far as I can tell, there is not an acre of land in the US that is not spoken for by someone or by some entity. And as mentioned in a previous blog, every parcel of land in this country falls under some jurisdiction, whether it be a county or the federal government.
Most developers study and understand the rights vested in land when they purchase it with an eye for future development. Land must make sense physically. You don’t want to have to move a mountain or fill in a lake if you don’t have to (though projects like that start to make sense in certain cities). But after you determine the land makes sense you need to make sure the governmental entity in charge allows for the land use you would like to build.
In today’s world, most cities and towns want to grow and have a plan for that growth. Commercial in certain locations, dense housing (apartments) in others, parks, schools, single family residences, and roads, trails, and public transportation corridors that connect it all together. You can tell when you’re in place that’s been planned versus a place that grew up in fits and starts and doesn’t make sense.
Most developers would like to create a place that functions well for their customers and that starts with fitting into the bigger plan for the community. But when someone sees the empty field behind their house that their kids rode dirt bikes on, or that they walked their dog in, sometimes something snaps when they find the current usage might change.
Mountain towns are infamous for the “pull up the drawbridge, we’re full” mentality. I’ve seen it so many times. There are many folks who have their house on the lake, near the creek, or in the dense forest, who object to anything like their very own property ever being built again. It’s remarkable how emotional folks get in their effort to deny additional opportunities for people to live the lifestyle they so love.
We cannot poison our waters and cut down all our trees and I’ve never met a developer who wants to do that. Most understand the reason people want to live in a specific place and the goal is not to ruin that. A major part of development expense (which ends up in the home price) is when a developer buys land with certain rights, but the plans to develop are objected to by members of the community, and local politicians and government officials don’t play by their own rules or even change them midstream.
There exists a perception of the big bad developer who would poison the environment to make a buck, but I haven’t seen it. There is however now a whole industry motivated towards fighting development and the professionals who engage in it are no less motivated by financial gain than the developer.
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