The CDC’s recommendations on group gatherings and social distancing present a unique challenge for local governments and the development community that relies on government approvals to continue business. As the response to COVID-19 evolves in the days and weeks to come, Hirschler land use and real estate attorneys are committed to providing perspective and advice. Here are some things to keep in mind in this uncertain time:
- Stay Alert to Alternative Meeting Formats: Stay on top of meeting schedules and format changes. Local governments are seeking creative ways to keep the public hearing schedule and process moving forward. If you have a hearing coming up, make sure you know how it will be conducted and how the public will participate.
- Expect Delays in the Approval Process: Expect the normal review and approval process to take longer. Out of necessity, public meetings may be canceled. When normalcy returns, expect long agendas and delays in scheduling as Planning Commissions and governing bodies work through the cases in the pipeline.
- Press Ahead with Staff Review: Keep the train moving. Local governments are encouraged to keep the review process moving forward, and applicants should work with staff to move projects through the review process. Many planning departments have video conferencing capabilities, and staff meetings can be conducted over the phone. The process may not move as quickly but aim to keep it moving.
- Be Mindful of Contract Deadlines: Plan ahead. Expect your approvals to take longer than your contract allows. Contact a member of the Hirschler team to discuss your contract deadlines and get advice on beginning conversations with the other party.
- Prepare for the Future: Get ready for the bounce-back. This economic shock will pass. Monetary and fiscal stimulus will keep markets functioning. Banks are better capitalized. Pent up demand will be released. Will you be in a position to take advantage of the upswing? Are there zoning changes or other approvals you need to get in the pipeline now? Is this an opportunity to refinance, modify or restructure your debt?
- Stay Informed: The Hirschler land use and real estate team is closely monitoring developments and will keep clients informed. We are working with planning staffs on creative ways to keep the trains running. For example, we can set up a Webex to review plans with staff. Have a question about a project? Call us for a complimentary consultation.
Myrna H. Rooks