Support for New Development Trending Up

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By Patrick Fox, President, The Saint Consulting Group

Support for new U.S. commercial development projects is trending up in virtually all categories according to The Saint Index survey of U.S. residents.  The survey has been tracking opposition to development since 2006 and is showing more support than opposition for new development projects for the first time in the study’s history.  Of all of the land use project types tested, only aggregate quarries and power plants have increased opposition while support for home improvement centers, grocery stores and even Walmart is way up.

Saint Index Graph 2015

While support for new development is growing, the news is not all good for developers.  72 percent of Americans said their communities are overbuilt or fine just the way they are indicating a significant hurdle for new development.  Distrust and cynicism over the process by which local land use decisions are made continues to cast a shadow with 61 percent believing their community does fair to poor deciding what gets built and 54 percent believing that the relationship between local officials and developers makes the process unfair

Increased support does not necessarily mean an easier path for developers according to Patrick Fox, President of Saint Consulting. “The process by which land use decision are made is now dominated by opponents who have the motivation and passion to show up and participate.  We consistently see projects with broad based support voted down by local boards who hear only from opponents who pack hearing rooms and actively participate in the process.”

New single family homes, grocery stores and hospitals are the most supported uses when people are asked how they would feel if they were proposed “in their community.”  Landfills, casinos, power plants, quarries and Walmart are the only uses more opposed than supported.

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Patrick Fox is president of The Saint Consulting Group, email: