Want More Small-Scale Developers in Your Town? This Guide Will Show You How to Get There.

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A small developer…

  • Is doing everything on their own.

  • Is the competitor crowded out by red tape.

  • Does not have a long financial leash.

  • Is doing a custom, specialty project each and every time.

They’re not working with an excess of cash or a team of lawyers, so they can’t afford to get into complicated legal battles about zoning, or wait months for a permit to be approved.

Meanwhile, a large developer…

  • Has a team of specialists on call.

  • Accepts burdensome regulations.

  • Has access to patient capital.

  • Is generally repeating a low-risk formula over and over.

The large developer could sit on that vacant lot for years, waiting for their legal team to argue about setbacks or floor area ratio. All the while, your city isn’t growing its tax base, and that lot isn’t turning into homes or businesses.

Unfortunately, many of our local laws are set up to favor the big developer, so if you’re a city staffer or a concerned citizen, it’s time to advocate for policies that make life easier for the little guy. A few ideas include:

  • Eliminating off-street parking requirements.

  • Allowing the next increment of development by right.

  • Getting rid of restrictive zoning codes.

For more ideas and insights, download the full Action Guide. And if you want to dig deeper, make sure to sign up for our online on-demand Strong Towns Academy course, “How to Clear the Path for Small-Scale Developers in Your Town.”

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