ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

Land Use: It’s What We Do

02.16.15 by Carolyn Back
1 Comment

There is a saying circulating around that makes Urban Planners chuckle…

“I’m an Urban Planner. I solve problems you don’t know you have, in ways you can’t understand.” 

Very few outside the inner circle of Land Use Planning truly understand the intricacies of our profession. Even my own parents can’t fully explain what I do for a living.

So, you may ask, “What problems?” Well, I’m glad you asked!

Let’s say you want to construct something that seems relatively straightforward to you, but when applying for the building permit, your eyes start glazing over as you begin to hear words as if spoken in a foreign language:  Encroachment, Conditional Use Permit, Environmental Constraints, Land Area per Dwelling Unit, Maximum Lot Coverage, Minimum Setback, Brownfield Site, Asbestos Abatement, Floor Area Ratio (FAR), Flood Plain, Comprehensive Plan, Commercial Kitchen Permit, Public Process…and the list goes on and on.

Just from reading that list, one begins to tune out, so imagine what would happen if it were you sitting across the counter from the person telling you all of the “problems” with your project? Your focus shifts from stunned and numb to anger and attack; “I just want a building permit! I own this property, are you telling me I can’t do what I want with my own land? The land I pay taxes on which funds your governmental salary!?”

Well, hold on now! The people delivering the frustrating news about your project are not the enemy. To you, they may appear to be speaking with a “forked tongue”, but in reality, they are speaking a language Planners are trained in and have mastered the linguistic nuances of. The municipal employees may appear to be against you, but in reality they are just doing the jobs they were hired to do per the Zoning and Building Codes in place.

If you are a professional in the construction industry, an architect or engineer, maybe a general contractor; land use planners can help carry the burden of getting your projects through the local, state and federal regulatory process to secure the entitlements and permits needed in order to go vertical. You may say, “We already handle this ourselves.” And I would say, “How is that working for you?” Are you enjoying spending multiple hours away from your preferred design and client relations time to arm wrestle with the governing entities, chasing your entitlements and permits? We would welcome the opportunity to help take that load off of your consistently full plate.

Or maybe you are a first-time land developer, business owner or single-family home owner and you need someone to help you navigate the often muddy waters of the regulatory process that quite frankly, you may not feel equipped to handle on your own. Sometimes it is nice to have a buffer between you and the representatives reviewing your project.We, planners, can handle the pressure of uncomfortable conversations, speak and understand development language and present your case before boards and commissions, while hopefully making your project a more satisfying experience. We also have friends in the industry, consummate business professionals that are ready, willing and able to come alongside to join the team, if the project requires legal representation.

The Wallace Engineering land use planning group has extensive public and private experience spanning across the United States and is well qualified to help you with your local, state, federal and environmental entitlement and permitting needs. Currently, we are excited to announce the taking of our Land Use Lunch and Learn “on the road” to discuss in more detail the services we offer.

Land Use:  It’s What We Do!

Land Use Lunch and Learn Road Show

No Charge for Admission, No Exam and Lunch Provided

Call us today to get on the 2015 World Tour schedule.

918.806.7352 – direct

918.584.5858 – main

We look forward to the opportunity of working with you.


Carolyn BackCarolyn Back is a land planner working out of our Tulsa office. She began working at Wallace Engineering in April, 2014. Carolyn’s special interests include music, working out, quilting, cooking, antiques, NFL football (Go Sea-HAWKS!), travel, sea kayaking and fishing in Alaska. Carolyn is a graduate of Leadership Tulsa Class 49, volunteers her time with the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless and is currently on the planning committee for CAN (Child Abuse Network) Superhero Challenge to be held March 29th at Post Oak Lodge. She can be reached at info@wallacesc.com.

One Response

  1. Mack says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed your “road show,” and would have even had there not been a free lunch!

    Thanks, Carolyn…I am so glad you’re here and am looking forward to seeing this part of our business grow.

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