Friday, December 11, 2009

Commercial Land Use Problems Continue...

I was visiting with several members of a municipal planning staff recently and heard some interesting information. 

By and large, Planning Commission hearings are much less busy (and, in some cases, have even been cancelled) than before the land development collapse.  One curious exception is that the number of plat requests has not dropped nearly as fast nor far as site plan/development plan/rezoning hearings.  The thought was that some land owners and developers may be trying to position their projects as development-ready if (a huge IF) development lending returns anytime soon.  That's why they're going ahead with the survey and basic engineering work that a plat application requires.

On the other hand, the Board of Zoning Appeals/Adjustments remain fairly busy.  Apparently, property owners are attempting to add on to or modify their existing homes and businesses rather than build new ones.  Oftentimes, they need variances to do this and, as a result, the BZA hearings remain somewhat more active.

Granted, all of this is anecdotal but I have heard similar information from multiple municipal planning types in a wide variety of jurisdictions.

Which leads to a couple of interesting pieces of recent news:

1.  Moody's is advising that delinquencies for commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS) continue to accelerate.  This is most likely because the underlining commercial properties continue to be vacated by tenants.  More tough news for local and state sales and property tax coffers.

2.  When you consider the recent government jobs that Larry Summers has held and currently holds, then the irony of this story is thicker than a fully-rated firewall.  Could it be the academic equivalent of this?

--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

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