You know how it feels when you have something important to do, but can’t exactly recall what it is. Or even worse, when you get that terrible sinking feeling upon remembering, because you dropped the ball – and it broke. No, we’re not talking about keeping track of your car keys. We’re talking about forgetting, or worse yet not knowing, about development-related agreements that are an increasingly important part of the land development approval process.

One ZoningHub client recently reached out to see how we could help them keep better track of those types of agreements that are often tucked away in file cabinets after they are signed. We thought that it was a great suggestion because we know that managing, organizing, and keeping track of development–related agreements is a common headache for city administrators and staff.

We are excited to announce that ZoningHub just launched the Beta version of a new administrative tool. It allows staff to stay on top of development-related agreements and also set reminders as well as make notes about specific terms. For now, the tool is administrative and only available to staff in the back-end of their ZoningHub site. However, with increasing calls for local government to be more transparent, these agreements could be made available online so that anyone is able to read and review agreements that may be of interest. That way, everyone can find the information they need when they need it.

There are many reasons why the use of development agreements has been on the rise, but it is mostly because these contracts are both beneficial for jurisdictions as well as the developers. They give both parties certainty in the ever-changing world of land use regulations. Some agreements, such as letters of credit and development agreements, are binding on the developer and the municipality. Other types of agreements may be required, or allowed, by the local land development regulations. Examples of these include shared parking agreements and stormwater maintenance agreements.

But as beneficial as development agreements can be, they are only useful when enforced. The brunt of the responsibility is on the jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the agreement and make sure that it does not expire. It is every cities’ worst nightmare to rediscover a contract in a stack of paperwork only to find that a deadline was missed or a condition not met.

It is also in the tax payer’s best interest to make sure that their city is keeping the best record of their developer agreements as possible. In most cases the contracts outline who pays for such things as infrastructure development or upkeep. If the city allows an agreement to expire, it often means that the developer is let off the hook and the tax payers could end up footing the bill.

What do you think about development-related agreements? Do you have a forgotten contract horror story? Tell us how you find this tool most useful and if development-related agreements should be readily available to the public, or not. Additional functionality could be added based on the feedback we receive from current and potential clients and others.

We are continually improving and expanding ZoningHub with additional tools and features with the simple goal of making zoning easier and more accessible (and helping to make staff’s job less stressful). We always want to hear your feedback or ideas for ways to improve ZoningHub. So be sure to get a hold of us either by emailing Tim or tweeting @ZoningHub.