Literally the bane of almost every planner I know, zoning verification requests (or letters) are a lender’s way to cover their ass by expecting planners and planning departments to drop everything they are doing at a moment’s notice and grind out a generation’s worth of background data on a specific site or project so it can be sold or refinanced. Even more fun is the fact that the buyer and seller’s agents never communicate, so you often have two separate requests for the same property. Lop on the fact that they will often submit the request just days before closing on the property and you have fun, frolic, and mayhem written all over these joyful tidings.
While a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request can be required for more complicated requests, the lenders (or their minions) will routinely ask for everything under the sun unless you tell them it will cost money. Then and only then will they back off from some of the more ridiculous aspects of their request, such as a conformation that every single aspect of a 40-year-old project remains in compliance with every modern nuance of your Code. Yeah…right! I’ll go out with a measuring tape and check all 400 of those parking space dimensions buried under 12 inches of snow right now.
The sad thing is, if lenders had just been doing their job (a.k.a. due diligence) all along instead of approving so many shoddy loans in the 2000s, perhaps the rest of us would not be suffering so often for their prior bad behavior. Seems to me that the naughty ones ought to be feeling the pain versus treating the rest of us to it. Zoning verification requests tend to be particularly common just before the end of the year, but I know I have prepared them in virtually every month of the year.
Yeah – I am kind of ranting here, but there must be a better way. Any suggestions on how to reduce (or even end) the bane and suffering of zoning verification requests are certainly welcome.