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After going to through a painful process of watching/waiting for a local developer to bring plans for renovating a shopping center in our hometown, I can only offer the following advice to any developer looking to come into a community and build/remodel a significant property: Please partner with the municipality and the residents!
In my experience, either firsthand as a municipal leader or concerned resident/onlooker, developers often don’t make communication a high priority. But in today’s connected environment, news travels fast and negativity for the developer can snowball if they don’t keep a transparent attitude towards the planning process.
I think I can speak freely that residents and municipal leaders are just as interested in you making a profit as you are – more so, even. They want your project to beautify the neighborhood and stay there for a long time. Absolutely nobody wants business to go away and leave empty storefronts.
So, as you approach the plan/permit/zoning phase, take the extra time to include the council people, planning members, the mayor and leading residents in your ideas and goals. Do not prevaricate, offer vague plans, skip planning meetings or -- most of all -- leave everybody guessing as to your true intentions for the property.
Thank you from everybody.
Editor’s note: Jeff Geoghan is mayor of East Petersburg, Lancaster County.