Just as the presence of oranges during a scene from The Godfather predicts imminent death of a character, some of our favorite movies are sprinkled with “Easter eggs” like these to clue audience members in on an upcoming plot twist.
But, these subtle hints about what’s next to come aren’t just reserved for Oscar-winning screenplays of some faraway Hollywood blockbuster.
They’re also found in the form of keywords nestled within real discussions happening right now in cities across your county — specifically, in the minutes and agendas of local municipality meetings, such as planning commissions, school boards, or economic development committees.
While finding these keywords may not predict action as quickly as in a 90-minute feature film, they are a good indication of upcoming construction projects almost always guaranteed to break ground one to three years out.
Here are three Easter-egg keywords to scope out next time you comb through minutes and agendas of municipality meetings within your team’s geographical reach:
1. Certified survey map
CSMs are required to divide or combine parcels, or pieces, of land. In construction, combining land is most common as larger proposed projects will almost always span across several parcels of land purchased by the developer.
Because it takes so much effort to make it happen — the landowner would have to propose it to the city, get it approved, then the city would have to do the work of actually resurveying the land and redrawing the map — mentions of “certified survey map” or “CSM” nearly guarantees some action of future development on land.
In order to begin a project, the project owner must make sure the building complies with the zoning code. This is why, for example, you don’t see shopping malls in the middle of corn fields — they don’t fit in with the Agriculture zoning code.
Therefore, mentions of “rezoning” would indicate some sort of development or redevelopment on land, especially because it takes effort, like a CSM, to rezone an entire area. In other words, no one is going to request to rezone land from Residential to Commercial if they weren’t going to build anything but houses on it.
3. Comprehensive plan
A comprehensive plan is an outline every city in the country has and adheres to when it comes to growth and development, physically and economically. They are written decades in advance so that the city stays on track with what it hopes to eventually become.
For example, the 2040 Sunnyville Comprehensive Plan may designate 20 acres of land in the city for commercial uses, but a developer may propose to amend the Comprehensive Plan to allow for some of that land to be used for residential development.
Comprehensive plans are very picky, so amendments take a lot of effort backed by evidence to prove changing part of the plan will indeed help a city, which is why mentions of a "comprehensive plan" typically indicate much larger projects, such as manufacturing facilities, that may even have a domino effect on other future construction projects, such as housing.
No matter how many you collect, you’ll be way ahead of your competition when you find these Easter eggs buried in local municipality meetings minutes and agendas — but don’t let them spoil! Tune in next week to find out how you can nurture a trusting relationship with the project owner and hatch your next big win.
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