Developments of Regional Impact

Developments of Regional Impact
by lowndes

In the state of Florida, a development that meets or exceeds designated statutory thresholds for size and potential impact on regional resources is required to undergo review as a Development of Regional Impact (DRI). This review by state and regional agencies is in addition to the review required by the applicable local government for compliance with its comprehensive plan and land development regulations.

Our attorneys have processed the vast majority of the DRIs in Central Florida since the inception of the DRI regulatory program in 1972. Collectively, the firm’s attorneys have served as lead or special counsel on more than 100 DRIs.

We actively represent clients in all aspects of DRI regulation, including the analysis of whether DRI review can be avoided entirely or postponed. The firm’s attorneys routinely process and obtain Clearance Letters and Binding Letters of Interpretation from the DRI program’s lead agency, the Florida Department of Community Affairs. We assist in the preparation of Applications for Development Approval, and review technical reports and documentation for legal sufficiency and internal consistency.

Attorneys also negotiate the terms and conditions of the DRI Development Order and take a primary role in the adoption hearings before the Regional Planning Council and local government. We provide advice to clients on vested rights and DRI aggregation issues. We are also continually involved in amending approved DRIs in response to market changes and client needs while maintaining vested entitlements. We assist in the implementation of the transportation monitoring and modeling process that is required to transition between phases of a DRI.

Attorneys in this practice group also negotiate and obtain Preliminary Development Agreements to allow our DRI developer clients to commence work on a project in advance of completing the DRI review process. Our attorneys are an integral part of the development team, assisting clients in obtaining the necessary development approvals in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.

When necessary, we handle administrative appeals of DRI development orders. The appeal process involves a formal administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge and a hearing before the Governor and Cabinet sitting as the Florida Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission.

Following approval of the DRI development order, we assist the client in structuring the sale of land and entitlements within the project, and we assist in the preparation of the required DRI annual reports through project buildout. We also undertake DRI due diligence investigations in order to identify issues and address matters which may be of concern to a prospective purchaser of DRI entitled property.

Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed attorneys have developed and maintain excellent relationships with the review staffs of the local governments, regional planning councils and state agencies involved in the DRI process. Members of our firm have served on committees appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Community Affairs to assist the agency in drafting rules and legislative proposals that will be acceptable to the private regulated interests.