Real Estate Development: Preliminary Layout Review Letters

The filing of a subdivision plan in the Land Title Office cannot occur without the approval of an Approving Officer appointed by the local municipal authority (s.88 Land Title Act). It is common practice for most municipalities to issue a Preliminary Layout Review letter (PLR Letter) which sets out what the approving officer will “likely” require to grant approval to the subdivision.

Although the PLR Letter is not binding on the municipality, administratively it forms a very important checklist for developers. Careful and early review of the PLR letter with your real estate lawyer can be very helpful to streamline the real estate development process.

Some of key items discussed may include:

  1. Park Area Dedication and No Build Areas
  2. Performance Bonds
  3. Development Cost Charges
  4. MOTI (Highways) referrals and Traffic Impact Assessment requirements
  5. Geotechnical and Engineering Considerations
  6. Retaining Wall Requirements
  7. Zoning and Setback Requirements
  8. Utility and Servicing Right of Way Requirements
  9. Restrictive Covenant Requirements (ie; Wildfire Interface Covenants in the Okanagan)
Most, and often all, of these requirements will require the involvement of a real estate lawyer. Real Estate Development Lawyers can assist clients with the negotiation, drafting and registration throughout the process.
The time it takes for a Developer to go from “conception to subdivision to building” will vary greatly from project to project and will often depend on the unique third party requirements (ie; geotechnical, engineering, or provincial approvals). Most PLR Letters have a “sunset” clause and expire (usually within 1 year) from the date of issuance but can be often be extended.
Peter Borszcz is a Business and Real Estate Lawyer practising in Kelowna, British Columbia and a shareholder of Pihl Law Corporation.

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