Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Evidence that Development is NOT Out-of-Control

These are some tables that I put together for the presentation tomorrow with information provided by the Planning Department. It's worth noting that the approvals for residential projects in 2005 were given at the peak of the market, most before Wilma hit. Most agree that marks the start of the slide of the residential market locally. Some of those units have not been built; others have built out partially. Some will likely be revised or disappear entirely, as explained below.

In terms of the commercial square footage, the total is relatively modest for the City of our size. Note the small parcel size - which reflects that we are essentially an in-fill development community. A comparison of the past three years of development approvals in the unincorporated areas of Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach and others would display a sharp contrast with Lake Worth's record.

There also seems to be an attitude around that a person sitting in a position of authority, like Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board, has the ability to attract, promote and get projects approved all on their own initiative. Nothing could be farther from the truth as market conditions dictate the pace of development at any point in time and exiting zoning laws lay out the basic expectations of what can be developed and what cannot be developed. And that one person is part of a voting board of seven others that greatly influence the final decision, as well as the public comment taken during the time the project is reviewed before the public.

Zoning is essentially blind of the market. The protection communities have is that if a project is approved, it has a limited amount of time to get built. In Lake Worth, projects must have a building permit within one year of their original approval. They can ask for one extension and prove extenuating circumstances. If not granted or not applied for, their approval expires and the community waits for the next project to come along.

I thought you would find this interesting.