Subdivision Approval Increases Land Values and Borrowing Power Needed for Capital Improvements

by Robert John Stevens, September 27, 2017

For innovation to flourish, farmers, developers and entrepreneurs need capital.

Landowners need loans for a variety of reasons, but when governments such as Utah County deny settlement, to obtain higher loans from banks, landowners must agree to lien more of their property, take more risk and in some cases bet the farm.

For example, yesterday my parcel #8 in Benjamin, Utah, a 5.25-acre parcel, was recorded with Utah County as an improved, buildable lot causing its value on the Utah County records to soar from $89,400 to $192,300.

As raw land, local banks would only lend me up to 50% of its value compared to 75% now that Utah County declares it as an improved building lot:

50% of $89,400 is $44,700
75% of $192,300 is $144,225

That’s a 322% increase!

I desperately need a $400,000 loan to build, pave and dedicate a 3/4-mile interior road so Utah County will declare two more of my lots buildable, even though all the improvements are completed including a 62-foot paved road stub, but that required liens against nine, 5.25-acre unimproved lots. The risk of losing all of them is too great.

What if Utah County reverts back to its pioneer roots and declared all land to be buildable? Settlers then could exercise their inalienable private property rights, build on their own lands and make improvements as needed according to county specifications, and borrow a lot more with much less risk.

Now that my lot is declared bulidable, my taxes are higher and I don’t want higher taxes, especially since no buildings are built.

Until relatively recent times in America, all land was buildable. The Founding Fathers were careful not to interfere with private property rights. Until the establishment of the Federal Reserve banksters in 1913, there were basically no regulations in the United States and yet we produced the majority of the world’s goods and were the richest country in the world.

Today endless government regulations may solve problems but cause others. For the abundant life, citizens must be allowed to build on their own lands.

Modern innovations provide many alternatives for modern conveniences such as utilities, clean water and road materials, none which were available just 100 years ago when inalienable rights were honored and the middle class prospered.


Emails today between me and Brayden Brucker at Utah Valley Credit Union (UCCU):

Hi Brayden,

Yesterday one of my 5.25-acre parcels was recorded with Utah County as a buildable lot causing its value on the county records to soar from $89,400 to $192,300.

What percentage of a land’s value as determined by Utah County do you lend on? 40%, 45%, 50%?


From Brayden Brucker:

If it is considered an improved building lot – meaning it is ready to build on, we can go up to 75%. Raw Land is up to 50% loan-to-value. So we would lend between 50-75%.

Utah County Proposal to Balance Authoritarian Control with Liberty for New Subdivisions

Letter to various Utah County Employees, September 21, 2017, by Robert John Stevens

Hi Craig (Bostock), Brandon (Larsen), Jay (Montgomery), Bill (Lee), Brian (Voeks), and Glen (Tanner),

Please consider this proposal to balance the authoritarian control that Utah County demands and enforces with personal liberty and private property rights:

Rather than delay subdivision approval, by default impose the worst-case, most expensive remedies, and immediately grant subdivision approval. I call this the guilty until innocent approach.

Then while citizens are making other improvements, preparing to build, and building their homes they can pay for tests and implement lower cost remedies as needed.

This way, no county department delays progress.

For example, by default, assume the groundwater table is high. Then, rather than delay subdivision approval, citizens may choose an expensive wastewater treatment system, that in today’s dollars may cost $25k, and may require hauling in a great deal of soil that perks.

Then as citizens work through other issues they can pay to have traditional underground water monitoring performed, perhaps using piezometers, hoping the tests will reveal lower groundwater, so they may implement a lesser expensive solution.

If it is realized that the underground water table is too close to the surface, then the property owner may immediately begin working on other remedies such as digging drainage ditches, installing lateral drains to manholes or building French drains powered by solar or electrical energy (just as Provo City may require electrical-powered sump pumps in residential basements).

Another example is water quality. By default, the Utah County Health Department may impose a costly water quality treatment remedy. Using this guilty until proven innocent approach, citizens are not delayed.

If the property owner buys and transfers water rights to the property, has a well dug and the water quality is tested and proven to be acceptable, the costly imposition will be removed or reduced.

In a free society, private property rights are honored and respected and citizens may immediately move onto their property and begin improvements. In a socialistic society, citizens must always seek permission and it is very difficult for them to navigate government regulations, especially if multiple government agencies or departments are involved.

In a socialistic society, the government may choose the remedies, products, and services, thus picking winners and losers. In such a condition, innovation stalls.

I believe what we have now leans too far towards socialism.

My proposal takes a middle ground and offers the following benefits:
1. No government holdups for subdivision approval after surveying and title work is completed.

2. By default, the most expensive remedies are required until tests prove otherwise (the guilty until proven innocent approach).

This approach may be applied to many county and state requirements for subdivision approval, across several departments, and would help open the door to free-market solution providers and innovative solutions.

I hope this all makes sense. Feel free to ask questions or schedule me for roundtable discussions.

Sincerely,

Robert Stevens