ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

Land Planning – Who We Are and What We Do

05.24.23 by Kyle Haskett
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Times are changing.

Actually, times are changing so fast I feel like I can’t quite keep up.

Here at Wallace, we have been so busy it has been hard to process all that is changing.

We have rapidly expanded our service lines, and it hit me while I was on the phone with a client that I was not going to be able to effectively cross sell some of our services because I don’t understand them.

Hello, Land Planning!

Why no, I do not know what you do. (How embarrassing!)

Let’s start at the beginning because that is where I started.

Here at Wallace, we have a land planning team of six, some in OKC, and some here in Tulsa. It is basically just playing SimCity all day, right? Ok, we have exhausted what I previously knew about land planners. Land planners create and implement plans that help provide that land is used in a way beneficial for both clients and communities as a whole, thanks google!

Knowing nothing about what land planners do or what land planning is like, I decided to ask the professionals. I caught up with Wallace land planners Justin DeBruin, Colton Wayman, Mike Thedford, and Karl Fritschen, and here is what I learned.

  • What does a land planner do and why is it important?

Land planning can encompass a great deal as it is a very broad field. Land planners divide what they do into two categories: current planning and future planning.

Current planning is managing the land entitlement process through zoning, subdividing, and permitting development on property. Wallace land planners start with due diligence on properties to establish what changes are required on a particular piece of land in order for our client to construct what they desire. This can include annexing properties into a city, rezoning, subdividing, site feasibility, entitlements, and an assortment of permits.

Future planning, on the other hand, involves the creation of long-range plans for communities. Comprehensive plans, as an example, establish the desired growth and economics of a community 30+ years into the future.

  • What types of services do we offer in land planning?

For the most part, Wallace provides current planning services as described above. We facilitate the land entitlement process from land selection to building permit. Often this involves rezoning and subdividing property. However, there are a wide variety of city processes that may come into play based on the circumstances on the property. Wallace has recently begun responding to requests for qualifications for future planning efforts as well

  • What drew you to land planning?

For Justin, growing up overseas provided many opportunities to experience life in vastly different built environments. When he traveled, he was always interested in what was unique about the community and where its character came from. Ultimately, learning about land planning made it feel like a great fit.

Colton said, “I loved playing SimCity growing up and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if this was an actual job?’”

Apparently, I wasn’t as far off as I originally thought!

  • What type of project do you enjoy the most?

While Justin appreciates the broad scope and different challenges that come with land planning, he is especially excited about Wallace’s recent endeavors into future planning.

“[Future planning], I would say, is the most interesting work. One of my favorite projects in the past was developing a downtown master plan for the City of Shawnee, establishing steps to make a more walkable and livable downtown.”

For Colton, his favorite project was working with a citizens’ committee to achieve the seemingly impossible task of remedying issues with an adopted comprehensive plan for the City of Plano.

“Concerns were addressed with the committee, and the revised plan was adopted unanimously! We were able to gain consensus amongst committee members and help move the city forward in its next chapter.”

Mike enjoys projects that are perceivably impossible or complicated from the get-go. He has helped tackle planning for major community projects like the USA BMX Headquarters, OKPOP Museum, and Greenwood Rising museum all the way down to rezoning Tulsa’s Eastland Mall to allow a grow facility in the basement.

  • What misconceptions do you think other people have about what you do?

Justin believes “land planners tend to get associated with current planning and entitlement work…and long range planning is a skill that is often forgotten.” In fact, much of a land planner’s education is learning how to anticipate and calculate community needs over time. This outlook informs current land use decisions, which factor into long term change.

Karl thinks the most common misconception is that people think land planners are solely responsible for the type of use that is developed. People don’t realize that there is a whole process involved and that planners are looking ahead into the future and are not land brokers determining what type of use is located on the land.

  • Any last thoughts?

From Justin’s personal experience, he summarizes the role of land planner as a generalist. Land planners are not specialized in certain trades like engineers or architects, but have general knowledge of the various roles. This makes them good facilitators of the whole process from bare land to building a structure, making them a natural addition to Wallace’s civil engineering, surveying, and landscape architecture services.

At the end of the day, land planners bring everything together. By evaluating a community’s current and future needs, they help unify citizens, city staff, and designers by finding and presenting the best path forward. Then, they facilitate the communications and paperwork to ensure successful implementation.

It turns out land planning is quite a bit more complex than SimCity! We’re excited that our land planners are here to analyze the big picture and help our clients develop their land for maximum positive impact.




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Kyle Haskett, PE


Kyle received both his Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering and Master of Science in Civil Engineering-Structural Emphasis from the University of Oklahoma. He is…

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