Development Review as Economic Development

Zoning Practice — February 2014

By Michael Blue, FAICP


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Development review is more than just a series of perfunctory steps to run a project through prior to approval. Done well, it is an economic development tool for a community to attract and secure desirable development, implement plans, and add to the local tax base. Conversely, an unpredictable development approval process can discourage development that the community wants. It can lead to difficulty in implementing plans and create the impression that the community is not a good place to do business.

Development review is an essential element of municipal operations, and when done well, it provides an opportunity for planners to bring a great value to the communities they serve. The process should always improve marginal developments and reject those that are inappropriate, but it should not be the stumbling block that inhibits desirable outcomes.

This issue of Zoning Practice offers suggestions for planners and public officials to help them audit development review processes with an eye toward improving predictability, emphasizing open and continuous communication, and, ultimately, adding value to their communities.


Page Count
Date Published
Feb. 1, 2014
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Michael Blue, FAICP
Michael is a Principal Consultant at Teska Associates in Evanston, IL. Work includes preparing comprehensive and strategic plans, zoning regulations, conducting staff and organizational development, and a performing development approval audits. Previously worked as Community Development Director for Highland Park, IL and Deputy CD Director for Mount Prospect, IL. Work in those communities included long range planning, current planning, and support of Council and Commission activities. Active in national and state leadership of APA, Michael currently is chair of ILAPA Commissioner Training Committee and serves on the AICP Membership Committee.