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The development entitlement process, or the land use entitlement process, is the legal process in which a real estate developer or landowner seeks to obtain government approval for their development plans. The developer must secure all required entitlements, including zoning, density, design, use, and occupancy permits before they can begin to build. The entitlement process can be long and complicated, but it’s the most important part of the development phase!

Examples of Entitlement


Zoning determines the function of property in a specific location by dividing land into zones in which certain land uses are permitted or prohibited. If the land you plan to build on is not zoned for your intended use, you must get the property rezoned before moving forward. Rezoning is the process of re-assigning land to a new zone for a change in purpose or use.

Zoning Variances

A zoning variance is a request to deviate from the current zoning requirements. When a variance is granted, the landowner receives a waiver to use the land in a manner that is not permitted under the zoning ordinance. These variances might include creating additional off-street parking or inserting a fence along a property line.

Use Permits

Similar to zoning variances, use permits grant the landowner an exception to use the land for a purpose not authorized in its zoning ordinance. The government must deem your development project necessary or desirable to the community. For example, the zoning board may allow commercial land use in a residential area or industrial use in a commercial district.

Utility Approvals

If utilities are not already installed on the site, you must get approval before they can be added. Some of the land may need to be donated to the city for proper utility installation and utility company access.


In many cases, you’ll need to have your landscape design approved to compliment the surrounding area before you begin the development project.

Road Approvals

If roads don’t currently connect to your property or your development plan includes new roads on-site, you’ll need to obtain approval before construction.