Land Planning

Right-of-Way Dedications?

In our last post, we talked about rules of thumb for density relative to lot sizes and product types.  But one key point to remember, particularly with infill projects, is that you need to factor in the loss of acreage due to the dedication of right-of-way (ROW) for an adjacent street.

A local jurisdiction will typically have a master circulation plan for streets and highways.  In these master plans, the jurisdiction will have a planned ROW width for streets, even if the widening is not planned in the immediate future.  So when you are going through the entitlement process for a property, it is important to understand what portion of your land will need to be dedicated for the future street widening.

I have found that my land planner or civil engineer will research this information and account for the ROW dedication in the site plan.  I have seen ROW dedications range from as little as three feet to as much as 30 feet and more.  In some cases, the local jurisdiction may require, as a project condition, to improve that portion with new asphalt, curb, gutter, and sidewalk.  Or it may be just dedicating the ROW on your final map.  In any event, these ROW dedications will reduce your gross acreage and impact your overall density that you can achieve.

One other aspect has to do with zoning and maximum density.  As example, let’s assume that the zoning provides for a maximum density of five units per acre.  I think in most cases that this max density is based on the net acreage “after” ROW dedication, which again can impact your overall density.  A good idea is to confirm all these facts with the local jurisdiction.

As always, we welcome your comments and questions below.

John Kaye has over 30 years experience within the land development and homebuilding industries, having held senior management positions with The Irvine Company, Koll Real Estate Group, and Brookfield Homes. As a developer, John has overseen the land acquisition, entitlements, and development of master planned communities, residential tracts, urban infill sites, and land assemblages. His experience and skill sets include land acquisition, land brokerage, project management, market analysis, finance, and strategic planning.

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