September 2015

You Asked. We Answered.

At the Inquiry Answer Service, we answer, on average, more than 300 questions for our subscribers each month. We consult a variety of sources to create a custom research packet — which may include APA publications, sample ordinances and plans, articles and literature from partner organizations, and the most current information available online — for each question.

Each month, we choose one question to feature here, so you can see what your peers around the country are asking and how we answered. When your organization subscribes to PAS, you and your colleagues will also have access to previous editions.

You Asked.

How do cities and counties cooperate on planning and development review?

Our city would like to review some of the development petitions that occur outside of the city's boundaries within the county's jurisdiction. Is there a model process for setting up this type of cooperative planning and development review?

We Answered.

Instances in which a city makes arrangements to participate in development review for certain development applications in a county's jurisdiction are typically addressed in intergovernmental joint planning agreements.  Joint planning agreements are a form of intergovernmental cooperation that help local governments address cross-jurisdictional impacts on infrastructure, land use, capital improvements, and development timing. Although these agreements can be between any two or more local governments, most joint planning agreements involve at least one municipality and one county.

While specific provisions vary from agreement to agreement, the basic purpose of a joint planning agreement is to create a mechanism for planning and reviewing future growth in a specified area. For joint planning agreements between a city and county, the agreement usually relates to specifically designated county land that may be annexed by the city within the next 20–30 years. Looking ahead to such potential annexations, the city's interest is in ensuring that development within these county areas is compatible with existing city standards and development patterns.

Joint planning agreements often detail development review procedures for the designated planning area, as well as standards for service provision or land-use planning cooperation. Depending on the scope and nature of the cooperation, a joint planning agreement may also create a new joint city-county body for planning and review purposes, or detail how revenue generated by future development will be shared among local governments. Typically, however, these agreements require the party that received a development application for a site within the designated joint planning area to share the application with the other party, and requires the comments of the other party to be considered in the decision-making process of the party performing the review.

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