Additional Factors in Project Feasibility

Companies, especially those in real estate development, have developed comprehensive due diligence/feasibility processes to determine if a project is a go or no-go.

But even the best due diligence/feasibility processes we’ve seen lack an understanding of the ‘political’ elements impacting a project, which often results in one of two scenarios:

1. The company passes on a project in response to a perceived regulatory roadblock, which if investigated further might be easily navigated, or

2. The company proceeds with a project only to run into an ‘unexpected’ political change that threatens the entitlements they seek (e.g. moratoriums, more stringent regulations, emergency ordinances, etc.).

We’ve got solutions and here’s how we help:

  • Political & Regulatory Risk Assessments – We specialize in understanding local and state regulatory systems and we excel at researching local regulatory trends, past project results, changing political winds (example: is the no-growth neighborhood group running candidates to flip the local council/board?).  We can help your company assess the political and regulatory risks prior to your investment.
  • Reverse Engineering of Regulatory Roadblocks – Have you ever passed on a project because you ran into a single regulatory limitation that didn’t fit the project (e.g. allowed % of lot coverage was too low for your home designs)? We help companies assess regulatory roadblocks and design strategies that can change the red flag your seeing into a green light.
  • Maximizing the Project’s Value – What if you could get a little more density?  Shorten your approval by a few weeks?  Or reduce some of your project’s conditions?  We can help with that.  We understand the politics of negotiation, as well as the opportunities to speed up local regulatory processes, and we can assist you in maximizing your next project’s value.
  • Proactive Project Mine-Clearing – Developing relationships, seeking code interpretations, securing code amendments – are all efforts we can manage on your behalf prior to your next project moving forward.
  • Community Outreach – There’s nothing worse than thinking everything is going great only to go to hearing and have dozens of neighbors show up in opposition.  We are experienced at communicating with neighborhoods and adjacent landowners, and we can help your company manage long-term project risk by utilizing the opportunity to address concerns early in the process.

Want to learn more about how we can help your projects?  Contact us.

The Day We Saved the Wine

[sg_popup id=”2322″ event=”onLoad”][/sg_popup]willis-hallSmall businesses often run into big problems.  And they don’t have the resources to hire lawyers and fight for fairness. Instead, they need an advocate that can help them navigate a reasonable, cost effective solution.

The following case study is a great example of how we help small business:

The Day We Saved the Wine

John Bell parlayed his passion for wine into Willis Hall Winery in 2003.  By 2006, Seattle Magazine awarded him “Best New Winemaker in Washington.”

However, in late 2007 Snohomish County initiated a code enforcement action against Willis Hall Winery threatening to shut down the operation for failure to comply with the county’s home occupation code.  Mr. Bell hired a land use attorney to appeal the enforcement action, but such an appeal had some risks and was a slow process.  With millions of dollars invested, John couldn’t afford to shut down his winery or move aging barrels of wine to a new location.

Willis Hall retained our company in early 2008 to assist his land use counsel in the appeal of the County’s order, as well as explore non-legal remedies.

Seeking to avoid litigating the matter, our company proposed several alternative technical solutions – offering research that his business may be a grandfathered use, applying for a code interpretation that the winery was an incidental use to the residence, and seeking an administrative zoning variance under a set of binding conditions.  All of these solutions were rejected by county staff.

With the appeal hearing looming, we put on our lobbyist cap and approached the County Council. Recognizing the politics of shutting a business down, the Council Chairman was willing to consider adding an amendment to a zoning ordinance pending before the Council, providing a legal basis for the Willis Hall to exist.

Our company drafted the language for the amendment and worked with the prosecuting attorney’s office and planning department to ensure it wouldn’t run afoul of any growth management laws.

A short time later the County Council approved the amendment and Willis Hall was saved.

Should Washington Encourage Night Hauling

Should Washington Encourage Night Hauling?

The greater Seattle metro area is experiencing a tremendous amount of economic growth, which when coupled with the state’s growth management laws (constraining developable areas) and notorious traffic congestion should lead to the question: “What if communities required new industrial and commercial construction to haul fill and like materials at night?”

The PROS:

  1. Get truck traffic off the roads at peak hours to reduce congestion and pollution from idling
  2. Shorten travel times for deliveries, which reduces construction costs and accelerates completion of site improvements

The CONS:

  1. Potential for noise impacts on residential areas if noise mitigating measures aren’t employed
  2. A greater need for regulators to monitor site construction at night

How We Helped This Business (and Could Help Yours)

Sometimes we are the last chance to save a business from drowning in regulations.

We recently helped a small business, The Grayson, resolve a zoning compliance matter that threatened to shut them down because their c0-housing solution to long term rentals for corporate relocation clients was defined as a “hotel” despite the fact it’s a far cry from a hotel.

Since it would be incredibly difficult to walk through the intricate challenges of their situation in a single blog post, we will try to simplify it.

The Grayson was an AirBNB style co-housing rental that the owners live in.  Unfortunately, such uses (businesses) aren’t defined in the County’s code.  When a use is not defined, it’s not allowed except that the County can interpret what use it most closely resembles.

In this case, their undefined use was found to be most closely like that of a “hotels” and hotels are not allowed in the zone where our client is located.

To solve the problem, we tenaciously pursued a code interpretation that argued our client was operating a boarding house.  And upon securing that code interpretation we helped bring the client into compliance with those regulations, saving the business.

Our client was willing to let us share her thoughts on our work. . .

“Toyer’s firm has a great background and working knowledge of regulations, zoning, and code. Toyer was able to navigate the complexity of county planning department and code, succeeding in getting a resolution that kept our business from having to close. More incredible was the fact that Toyer was successful where attorneys had failed to help us with the problem.  Without Toyer Strategic’s involvement, we would have spent thousands of dollars fighting a losing battle!”  Mariam Zinn, Owner, The Grayson

We’re proud of the work our company does and what it means to small business and entrepreneurs.

Got a zoning or zoning compliance issue?  We can help. Contact us

USPTO Approves MicGrowPolitan® Trademark

A couple of weeks ago we received some exciting news.  The United States Patent and Trademark Office has official approved and registered our trademark for MicGrowPolitan® – a brand of economic development services created and tailored to the needs of the nation’s 551 official Micropolitan Statistical Areas.  Learn more