Definition of Land Development Entitlement

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Land entitlements are the backbone of development. Entitlements dictate the permitted building types that may be constructed on a property. They also determine the property's value. A property that is limited in its use is not typically as valuable as a property that has a wide array of possibilities for use.


Typically, developments can only be financially viable if they can obtain a certain density or usage. Entitlements are the key to legally gaining this right from the governing municipality.


Entitlements are a legal agreement with the governing municipality to allow a certain building type to occur on the site. Entitlements outline the density, function, setback requirements allowed for the property.


When reviewing an entitlement application, a municipality will consider potential traffic impacts, environmental risks, and community acceptance of the proposed development. They will often require due diligence reports from the owner as well as a proposed conceptual rendering of the project.

Time Frame

Applying for entitlements is a cumbersome process. Depending on the size of the project and intended use, entitlements can take from six months up to two years to obtain. This is in large part based on the thorough reports (i.e., environmental) required by the municipality before a decision can be made.

Expert Insight

Property owners should be prepared for a significant financial expense when applying for entitlements. Often the owner must pay for all due diligence reports and the site's conceptual renderings. The cost of the experts required to complete these deliverables can be pricey.

About the Author

Mr. Michael Johnson has over seven years of experience in the construction and real estate industries. Michael has a Masters of Construction Management from the University of Southern California and has work experience with the world's largest real estate management firms. Many of his clients include Fortune 500 Companies and he has worked on a wide array of projects.