Whether you live in a city, suburb, or rural area, you've probably heard of land development. Why is land development an important topic?
Just by way of driving, walking, or flying around, everyone has been land that hasn't been changed from its natural form – or at least not too much. What role does land development play in the future of land ownership and cities?
Land development has an important role in developing cities. We could call land development the process of making land more valuable by adding utilities and structure, as well as the ability to make it inhabitable by or useful for people.
So what goes into land development and when is land considered to be developed? Can land development be detrimental? How does land development help communities? We'll explore these scenarios.
We've done research on land development and seen land development happen in our own backyards. We'll explore some of the issues from people who believe in keeping land the way it is, and those who prefer to make land more useful for people.
Table of Contents
What is land development?
While land development is a broad term, the idea of land development generally means making land hit for modern human habitation. This includes in its most basic forms having the ability to connect to the electrical grid, as well as getting running water, and structures in place to keep humans safe from the elements while at home or at work. The longer term purpose can also be to add value to the land, as the labor and materials that go into land development can make a plot of land worth considerably more – both dollar and service wise.
Positive changes from land development
The process of land development isn't just about taking raw land, like grasslands or unused land, and making nature into something with construction – it's also about taking unused or underutilized land and making it more useful.
For example, land development could be taking an old, run down and abandoned apartment building and tearing it down, then converting the area into something for manufacturing or industry. The result can be a boost to the local economy with new jobs, and the removal of a dilapidated eyesore.
A farmer could also buy a big plot of land that was previous unsuitable for growth but change it to make it possible to grow food, which benefits both the community and potentially the rest of the world.
In these ways, land development can help clean up an old site. A local example for this writer is the development of land formerly used by a major car manufacturer – now abandoned for years. A local company could come along and pay for the removal of toxic waste associated with building vehicles in the past half century and make it into something that helps the community.
In most cases, cities attempt to carefully plan the impact of a new development on local traffic and the environment too. Developers must present plans to ensure that parking is both adequate and safe- and that water or environmental run off goes to the right place and doesn't create unintentional standing water.
A growing population and land development
Populations shift over time. A couple of hundred years ago, you could find few “big cities” in North America, and certainly not the way we define them today. People who moved to larger metro areas, which require lots of land development to make buildings, plumbing, and electrical available. More recently, populations may have grown tired of large and loud cities, and could move back to the suburbs or rural areas.
The number of people in most cities has generally grown – often with the presence of jobs, and has required more housing to be built. More housing usually requires leveling out land, getting electrical lines as well as plumbing lines placed, and the building of roads in some cases to offer transport back and forth.
Along with a growing population comes the need for more support facilities ranging widely from hospitals to schools and grocery stores since people don't commonly grow their own food.
Growing populations also have the tendency to use more electricity, making the redevelopment of some properties with more earth and energy friendly materials a major drive for developers.
In the case of a small town, land development can be vital to economic growth. Without land development, especially residential development, people won't have a place to live should they want to move to a smaller town. More real estate development can bring more people, which can bring more businesses and services, which allows a city to grow.
The negatives of land development
We'll be fair and cover both sides here. Land development won't make everyone happy – but few things will! In a city very near to this writer, the City Council opposes land development because they want to maintain a small town feel with mostly “Mom and Pop” stores. Another city might have people disagreeing on building a large park when others think that the place should be redeveloped and re-zoned as retail.
To some, land development is messy and takes a lot of time. To be fair, land development these statements are generally true, but your neighborhood, schools, local stores, and parks came somewhere over the course of decades, if not centuries.
To weigh positives and negatives: Good land development is important because it respects the area and the environment. Part of the process of being able to develop land often involves going through a local government, which needs to have a solid connection with community wants and needs to be able to be effective. If a city is deciding on whether or not to allow for the building of a factory that could potentially dump toxic waste into pristine waters, that might not be good land development, and they should proceed with caution at the very least.
In some cases, residents and a local government could view any land development as negative simply because they don't want their city to change from the way it is currently. They could readily run into people who don't agree and want changes to take place to encourage convenience, growth, and more services.
What does land development normally consist of?
Land development can go as far as carving up soil for the purpose of flattening it and installing power lines, water, sewage, and other utilities. When you see “Under Construction” and lots of dirt and heavy equipment, you can bet that some level of land development is going on to change the terrain.
One of the positives of the process of doing land construction is that it provides jobs to construction workers. Even the need to work on local roads can help mend or replace old asphalt that maybe already needed it.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling