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What are development agreements?

Development agreements are contracts between a local government and a private developer that establish the terms and conditions for developing a specific property. In the context of land use and zoning, development agreements are often used to provide certainty and predictability to developers and local governments by establishing a framework for the development process.

Development agreements can cover various issues related to the development process, including land use designations, zoning regulations, building codes, infrastructure improvements, and environmental requirements. The agreements may also establish timelines and deadlines for the completion of various stages of the development process and procedures for resolving disputes that may arise during the development process.

Some of the key benefits of development agreements include:

  • Certainty: By establishing clear terms and conditions for the development process, development agreements can provide developers and local governments certainty about what is expected of each party.
  • Predictability: Development agreements can help ensure that the development process proceeds in an orderly and predictable manner, minimizing the risk of delays or unexpected outcomes.
  • Flexibility: Development agreements can also be tailored to each development project’s specific needs and circumstances, allowing for greater flexibility in the development process.
  • Transparency: They can also help ensure that the development process is transparent and accountable to the public by providing clear guidelines for the development process and establishing procedures for public review and comment.

Overall, development agreements can effectively manage the complex and often contentious process of land use and zoning regulation by providing a transparent and predictable framework for the development process.

Need help with a matter related to development agreements? Schedule your consultation today with a top land use and zoning attorney.

In Florida, which laws and regulations apply to development agreements?

In Florida, several laws and regulations relate to land-use and zoning development agreements. These include both state and local laws and regulations. Some of the key laws include:

  • Stat. § 163.3227, which lists the requirements of a development agreement
  • Stat. § 163.3229 details that the duration of development agreements cannot exceed 30 years, with certain exceptions.
  • Stat. § 163.3233 outlines the local laws and policies that counties must adopt to govern a development agreement.
  • Stat. § 163.3243 includes remedies available to aggrieved or adversely affected parties, including injunctions.

What are common issues regarding development agreements that lead to litigation?

Development agreements are contracts. Like most contracts, litigation often derives from one party’s (or, in some cases, both parties’) breach of the development agreement. The following issues are among the most common in actions regarding development agreements in land use and zoning matters:

  • Disputes Over Interpretation: Development agreements can be complex legal documents, and disputes can arise over-interpreting specific terms and provisions.
  • Changes to the Project Scope or Design: If a developer seeks to change the scope or design of the project after the development agreement has been signed, it can lead to disputes with local government or community groups.
  • Environmental Issues: Development agreements may require the developer to comply with certain environmental regulations or mitigation measures. If the developer fails to comply, it can lead to litigation.
  • Failure to Meet Deadlines or Performance Standards: Development agreements often include deadlines and performance standards that the developer must meet. If the developer fails to fulfill these requirements, it can lead to litigation.
  • Disputes Over Compensation or Incentives: Development agreements may include compensation or incentives for the developer, such as tax breaks or fee waivers. Disputes can arise over the amount of compensation or whether the developer is entitled to it.

We are value-based attorneys at Jimerson Birr, which means we look at each action with our clients from the point of view of costs and benefits while reducing liability. Then, based on our client’s objectives, we chart a path forward to seek appropriate remedies.

To determine whether your unique situation may necessitate litigation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation.

What are effective measures to minimize the risk of litigation over development agreements? 

Some measures to minimize the risk of litigation include:

  • Clearly Define Terms and Conditions: The development agreement should define all terms and conditions, including the project scope, timelines, performance standards, and compensation or incentives. This can help avoid disputes over the interpretation of the agreement.
  • Engage with Stakeholders: Engaging with stakeholders, including local government officials, community groups, and neighbors, can help to build support for the project and address any concerns early on. This can also help to avoid legal challenges and delays in the approval process.
  • Conduct Thorough Due Diligence: Conduct thorough due diligence on the property and project before entering into a development agreement to identify any potential issues or challenges that could lead to litigation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is responsible for enforcing the terms of a development agreement?

The developer and the local government are responsible for enforcing the terms of a development agreement. The agreement may include dispute resolution mechanisms, such as mediation or arbitration, to help resolve any possible disputes.

Can a development agreement be modified after it’s been signed?

A development agreement can be modified after it has been signed. Still, the developer and the local government must agree upon any modifications and comply with all relevant regulations and laws.

What happens if a developer breaches the terms of a development agreement?

Suppose a developer breaches the terms of a development agreement. In that case, the local government may have the right to terminate the agreement, seek damages or other remedies, or take other legal action to enforce the terms of the agreement.

Have more questions about a development agreements-related situation?

Crucially, this overview of development agreements does not begin to cover all the laws implicated by this issue or the factors that may compel the application of such laws. Every case is unique, and the laws can produce different outcomes depending on the individual circumstances.

Jimerson Birr attorneys guide our clients to help make informed decisions while ensuring their rights are respected and protected. Our lawyers are highly trained and experienced in the nuances of the law, so they can accurately interpret statutes and case law and holistically prepare individuals or companies for their legal endeavors. Through this intense personal investment and advocacy, our lawyers will help resolve the issue’s complicated legal problems efficiently and effectively.

Having a Jimerson Birr attorney on your side means securing a team of seasoned, multi-dimensional, cross-functional legal professionals. Whether it is a transaction, an operational issue, a regulatory challenge, or a contested legal predicament that may require court intervention, we remain a tireless advocate every step of the way. Being a value-added law firm means putting the client at the forefront of everything we do. We use our experience to help our clients navigate even the most complex problems and come out the other side triumphant.

If you want to understand your case, the merits of your claim or defense, potential monetary awards, or the amount of exposure you face, you should speak with a qualified Jimerson Birr lawyer. Our experienced team of attorneys is here to help. Call Jimerson Birr at (904) 389-0050 or use the contact form to set up a consultation.

Here are some blogs written by JB attorneys that provide more information about development agreements:

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