Thread: Creative ideas for the halting of land development.

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Dalton, GA

    Creative ideas for the halting of land development.

    Besides the crashing of the real estate market or buying the land, anyone have any ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    NE Tennessee

    RE: Creative ideas for the halting of land development.

    Find some rare species of somthinorother and have it preserved? Find historical signifigance? Indian burial ground? It usually boils down to money. If you got enough of it you win!

    Not sure what you are looking at or for, but my experience with developments and city council meetings leaves me the idea that in most cases, short of one of the above happening, the best, you can do is get as many "concerned citizens" as possible to sign petitions or show up and support a cause, then approach citiy council or development board with a very achievable compromise solution. Ask for big buffer zones, alternate siteing of buildings, tree preservation, etc. Depending on what type of development you are talking about there may be options.

    one example, many cities/counties have begun to offer incentives to developers for altering the way that sites are developed. If the proposal is to take 100 acres of property and subdivide it into 100 1 acre lots, the developer has been given incentive to make lot size smaller and set aside a certain amount of the land under a land trust. Also i have seen developments where it was zoned low density residential and the county allowed a rezoning to medium density(condos), with the same provision. the developer gets the same # of occupants and there is less cost for infrastructure.

    A lot of it depends on your county's view on the value of trees, what the development is, and who the developer is. I watch a lot of our city council meetings, and i can't recal one time that the developer didn't end up getting their way for the most part. I have even seen the intentional removal of three very old beech trees because the city and citizens were trying to preserve them and in so doing costing the developer time and money. Developers might just be the devil.
    "EDUCATION begins when you question something. EDUCATION occurs when you have resolved your doubts" Alex Shigo

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Central Indiana

    RE: Creative ideas for the halting of land development.

    watsont seems to have covered the bases. I will say that I have found that even when you lose a battle with development, you can sometimes get a concession--by being nice and polite. I joined a hard fight against a nasty development next to my own nasty subdivision back before I fled the evil suburbs and the endless miles of vinyl villages. We fought against the plan to put 105 cheaply constructed vinyl homes on a 17 acre field next to our community. The houses would be priced well below the value of our houses, which was the main motivation for my neighbors and the homeowner's association. I let my neighbors be the irrational name-callers and slightly disturbed crazies. I made some calm, rational remarks at the planning commission meetings and signed the petitions and so on. And, after every meeting--we delayed the development for almost a year--I went up to the developers and their lawyers and talked with them, in a friendly fashion, looking for a compromise. I actually came up with one--well, they put it forward, with more details than I had given them. My stupid neighbors thought that they could win--despite the fact that the zoning changes had already been made and the issues at hand were minor planning variances for which legal precedent made it impossible for us to stop the development. So, they refused the compromise. When the commission finally took the legally required vote and the legally advised decision, my neighbors all huffed off in a rage. I went up to the developers and said, "what can you do for ME now?" They graciously planted a line of fast-growing trees as a privacy screen in my yard to block the line of sight between my place and their development. The neighbors had to plant their own and, when I moved, were still squabbling over whether or not to build a privacy fence.

    Oh, the delicious irony, besides the stupid neighbors getting nothing for refusing to operate in reality, was that that developer just went bankrupt and went out of business this week. The front page of the Indianapolis newspaper carried the story about how C.P. Morgan was a big part of the problems with the housing bubble in our area. Good riddance.

    Long story to say that you don't have a lot of options. We also fought the Rocky Mountain Express Gas Pipeline that came through our area. The citizens were well-organized and we fought to divert the pipeline because of the endangered Indiana bat. We tried all sorts of alternatives--to no avail. The old saying goes that you can't fight city hall. You definitely can't beat the federal government--heck, you Georgians tried that back in the Civil War, right? Right or wrong, they'll win.

    But you might get some concessions.

    The current economic situation has certainly slowed development. That might buy you some time. But your only real option, as I see it, is to buy the land. I know that was what you posted in your question. But nothing else will have the same power.

    But watsont said it well--there might be options, depending on the particular situation. Most of those options will NOT be a total victory, but you might save something or win something that you wouldn't get otherwise. Your best chance is at the outset, when zoning decisions are being made. But those may already be done and you'll be fighting an uphill battle after that. Aim for small victories and you have a chance.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Dalton, GA

    RE: Creative ideas for the halting of land development.

    I'm not the most articulate person and I hardly want to break the momentum of intelligent posts thus far with any mindless snivelings, but I'd also would like guidance on how to handle my own personal delima.

    I have 14 acres and the 16 acre lot next to me has been up for sale 3 times in 3 years. Its taken me about as long to figure out what exactly is going on over there. Here are the puzzle pieces I've managed to find so far:

    The guy whose name originally appears on the deed book died some number of years ago. According to the RA listing the lot now, the heir didn't know she inherited the land for a fair amount of time (don't ask, I don't know how that's possible). When I bought my land, the lot nextdoor was for sale at an outrageous price ($185k). Needless to say, it didn't sell. But sometime before I ever took the first look at my place, the neighboring lot was cleared of trees and had 20 or so smaller lots marked off with those orange ribbons. There was also an obvious road marked off ending in a culdesac. Someone had tried to develop it and either ran out of money or ran into a legal problem.

    Well, a few months after I moved in, a big sign went up advertising an estate auction for that land. A couple of weeks later, the sign was gone. I called the courthouse a couple of times over the next couple of years to find out who bought the land, but it continued to be listed under the original ower who had been dead for nearly 10 yrs! Then, a few weeks ago, new signs popped up over there. Now, according to the courthouse records, I find out who owns it and what it sold for and when. It was $75,000 on Feb 2008. But according to the RA, that is incorrect.

    What happened was the guy that won the bid with the $75,000 was outbid by someone else AFTER the auction and the whole deal ended up in court. (Again, don't ask, its Georgia). So,,, I guess it was ruled that the guy that won the auction had to match the price of the 2nd guy with the higher bid and it was sold at that price. Anyway, the current owners paid around 100k for it and now they want out due to the economic crisis. They just want enough to pay off the note of about 98k + plus RA commisions.

    Effectively, all I want to accomplish is to keep the land bare. I don't want a bunch of rednecks living nextdoor with dogs and screaming kids coming over on my land. At the same time, I'm not sure I want to sink 100k into something that I will never develop or sell. Its dead money. However, I know if I don't do something soon, it WILL be developed. I need an epiphany.

    Btw, many of the tree pics I've posted on this site were taken of trees growing on that lot. There are nice 2-3yr old Red Oaks, White Oaks, Nothern Reds, Scarlets, Tulip Trees, and who knows what else growing over there. That would be a nice little forest one day. Especially if I kept it tended.

    What would you do?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Central Indiana

    RE: Creative ideas for the halting of land development.

    If it were me, I'd buy the land. Property isn't that cheap around Indianapolis, even in this economic downturn. I'm looking to buy more land next to me and am HOPING to get it for closer to $12,000 dollars an acre rather than the $20,000 dollars an acre I expect to pay--and THAT higher price is considered reasonable (or even cheap). A few miles away, you can't touch land for under $50,000 an acre and, when you get into the city itself, forget it. Any undeveloped property will go sky-high. Some land on the south-side of Indy just sold for $765,000 an acre earlier this year. To be sure, it was a farm that is in a prime location for commercial development. But, still . . .

    So, if I had the opportunity that you do and I could afford it or thought I could, I'd be signing the papers and making all of those lovely little trees my own . . . .

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Central Indiana

    RE: Creative ideas for the halting of land development.

    Oh, didn't finish my thought . . . NOW is the time to buy! In a few years, if the market recovers, the price will probably go up. No one knows how things will shake out with development. Hopefully, there will be no more low-cost, box-cutter, vinyl villages overcrowding former fields and forests. I hope we go back to the old days, when people had to have a down payment, employment, and good credit to buy a house. That will take care of much of the evil I see in our present suburban blight. But if someone already thought about developing that plot next to you, it will probably end up being some kind of subdivision someday. If you move now, you can own it and prevent that.

    I never think of land as a "dead money" investment. God isn't making any more of it, you know. If you're looking at it for an investment, then you shouldn't buy it unless you plan to someday build the JustRandy Acres subdivision next door. But the land itself is priceless if you want to have control over how things proceed right around you.

    Worse comes to worse, you'll have something to leave your heirs. They can develop it and build the subdivision or the space-ship docking pods or whatever . . .

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Dalton, GA

    RE: Creative ideas for the halting of land development.

    Ok, well now I need to post a thread, "Creative ideas for the coming up with money in a bad economy."

    I'd like to own it, but if the economy gets worse like the president says it will, I'm not sure I want to take on any more financial obligations.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    cottageville, south carolina

    RE: Creative ideas for the halting of land development.

    Have land prices gone down anywhere? I got my land for 2k per acre, it's almost all swamp though. we bought it about 4 years ago. there are similar pieces for sale about a mile away, they want around 100k for 15 acres i havnt seen land prices coming down, but maybe people are just holding on until people start buying again. maybe if things keep going bad randy, you could get that property real cheap.
    peace to all

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Dalton, GA

    RE: Creative ideas for the halting of land development.

    There are houses with acreage going for 20-30k here. The houses might need a little work, but they're liveable.

    Your 100k for 15 acres is the same as my 100k for 16 acres, essentially.

    The realestate market has been trending down since Q1 of 2006. That's 3 yrs of declining prices in some areas. A subdivison I've been keeping my eye on since Feb 2006 has been in the toilet all that time... Except for now. I took a drive thru 2 weeks ago expecting to see a ghost town, but there were only 2 houses for sale and the streets were filled with kids playing and all the houses had signs of activity. Not only that, but there were 2 new roads and lots of lots marked off. I fully expect them to be building houses all summer. Knowing that kinda put the fear in me about the land nextdoor. The legal bugs are finally worked out and its about time for everyone to start building again.... After 3 yrs of decline. It makes sense.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Central Indiana

    RE: Creative ideas for the halting of land development.

    I'd be surprised to see the housing market bounce back that quickly. There will be places where it does recover and expand faster than in others. But I just read an article in which they were predicting a decade before there would be a recovery and, even then, it would not go back to the "bubble" kind of growth. The last part of that is good--we don't need that! I saw a chart recently that showed real estate prices over the past fifty years. The last ten had this huge peak, unlike anything ever seen before, as prices inflated beyond all reality. A television expert on one of the financial channels the other day was celebrating the collapse, saying that it will be better for the economy and the vast majority of us later on. He said, "we can't sustain an economy where you buy a house for a hundred thousand dollars, put in new light bulbs, then turn around two years later and sell it for eight hundred thousand dollars!"

    I'm fortunate--at least so far, knock on wood!--a stable (supposedly "recession-proof") job, no debt, assets, a reserve fund, and some capital. I'm looking to buy . . . . if I can just convince my wife to go along with my plans! THAT is another matter altogether. LOL.

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