• By: David Nemecek

With Creativity, the Entitlement Process During COVID-19 Brings Unexpected Opportunities

While the land development permitting process may look different now, it is possible to entitle properties in the wake of COVID-19. Applicants might even see unexpected benefits and opportunities in pursuing approvals, now. Though the process varies between states and jurisdictions, here is what Bohler’s teams are seeing across the country and the ways we are collaborating with jurisdictions and clients to move projects forward.Jurisdictional and Agency Submissions What We’re Seeing: Most jurisdictions and agencies are still processing land development applications. Some continue to accept hard-copy submissions via drop-off bins. Other jurisdictions are accepting electronic submissions. Many municipal staff members are working remotely or in staggered shifts.Even with a smaller percentage of staff present in the municipal offices, jurisdictions are eager to keep applications moving. Doing so reduces the anticipated backlog of submissions once “business as usual” resumes. It also allows the jurisdictions to continue collecting much-needed permit fees.A Different Approach: Applicants aren’t the only ones adjusting to a new submission process–jurisdictions are, too. At Bohler, we are helping jurisdictions adapt to these changes. In promoting the efficiencies of electronic submissions, our Teams are encouraging their adoption. We are also collaborating with jurisdictional staff regarding the technology to put the above approach into practice.For hard copy applications, our teams are working with staff on the logistics of how and when applications are received. Even small details are being reworked, like postmarking and time-stamping packages.We are collaborating with municipal engineers and agency reviewers, many of whom are working from home, to promote reviews.Unexpected Opportunities for Applicants: In general, the entire review process has relaxed a bit in some jurisdictions. With site inspections on hold and fewer distractions created by reviewers working remotely, reviewers’ workloads have changed. It has freed them up to answer questions and respond faster, allowing applications to be processed more quickly.Public Hearings What We’re Seeing: Most hearings are being held by phone or via video-conferencing technology. READ MORE

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