Land Use – Stuart

Dean Mead’s Land Use, Zoning and Permitting attorneys have decades of experience in Martin and St. Lucie counties guiding residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and mixed-use development projects from the purchase of raw land to final approvals. Our attorneys help individuals and businesses with zoning changes, site plan approvals and various permitting issues to achieve clients’ goals for their properties.

Whether you are a residential developer building a 200-home community or a commercial developer planning an office building, shopping center or medical complex, time and cost are primary concerns. We understand the importance of building relationships with local and regional governments and other players in the development process to ensure the quickest, most cost-efficient path for obtaining local, regional and state government approvals. We work with officials and staff in Martin County, St. Lucie County and local municipalities in all aspects of the zoning and permitting process.

While we live and work on the Treasure Coast, we coordinate and oversee legal counsel needs with Dean Mead attorneys and consultants in Tallahassee and throughout Florida to ensure that clients receive the most comprehensive and seamless representation possible. Our knowledge of the local players in land development combined with deep statewide resources and experience is what sets us apart.

Dean Mead attorneys advise clients on matters involving:

  • Future land use amendments.
  • Special exceptions.
  • Conditional uses.
  • Planned developments.
  • Utility issues.
  • Traffic concurrency and other infrastructure issues.
  • Economic development incentive grants.
  • Tax abatements.
  • Debt restructuring transactions.

We work on land development permitting and approvals with numerous regional and state agencies, including:

  • Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD).
  • South Florida Water Management District (SWFMD).
  • St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD).
  • Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC).
  • Martin County Growth Management Department.
  • St. Lucie County Planning and Development Services.
  • Port St. Lucie Planning and Zoning Department.
  • Florida Public Service Commission (PSC).
  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).
  • Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How long will it take to get a development project approved?

We start by listening to clients in order to fully understand their goals and what they want to do with a site. We can use this information to develop a timeline to help clients understand what approvals they will need and how long the approval process is likely to take.

The types of approvals required will determine both the timeline and the likelihood of approval.  For example, if a site is not zoned properly for a client’s intended use and requires a zoning change and/or a land use amendment, the process will take longer than if only a site plan approval is needed. We have extensive experience with guiding clients through zoning changes, land use amendments and site plan approvals, which often may be done concurrently, and with helping clients identify the most cost-efficient path to meet their goals.

Q. What permits and approvals do I need for my development project?

Land use amendments, zoning changes and site plan approvals are commonly needed when developing property in Martin or St. Lucie County. A special exception or conditional use approval may also be required to allow for a specific type of use such as a drive-thru.

Zoning change requests aren’t approved automatically. The requested zoning must be compatible with surrounding uses and with the property’s future land use designation.  Similar compatibility concerns are raised for land use amendments and conditional use approvals.

In most cases, the City or County will also require a traffic study to determine the likely traffic impacts of the project and an environmental study to  identify the impact on natural resources.  We are experienced in dealing with traffic concurrency issues and negotiating traffic improvements agreements. Our lawyers also routinely work with local staff, Army Corps staff and water management district staffs throughout Florida on issues involving mitigation and preservation of wildlife habitat and wetlands, and the permitting of water retention and drainage systems.

More approvals mean more time and more cost. We can help land developers identify issues with a property early in the process in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

Q. How do I know if my land development project requires a zoning change?

We recommend consulting an attorney before purchasing property for development. At Dean Mead, we like to get involved as early as possible to help clients determine whether a property can be used for their intended purpose before they buy it.

For example, we can help you to determine if you will need to obtain a zoning change, conditional use approval or other approvals in order to develop the property for your intended use.  Issues such as a lack of utilities or traffic concurrency can also make the proposed use unfeasible or too expensive to develop.

You should not close on the purchase of the land until you have done your due diligence and obtained the necessary land development approvals.  We have extensive experience in drafting and negotiating contracts that allow clients to  obtain the necessary approvals before the sale is complete or  to walk away from the deal if those approvals are denied.