The Development of Regional Impact (DRI) Permitting Process began in the early 1970's for State and regional review of certain local government development decisions considered to be of regional impact because of their character, magnitude and location. At that time, few local governments had comprehensive plans and many had no zoning or subdivision regulations, while environmental laws were in an early stage of evolution.
Comprehensive planning, environmental permitting and natural resource protection programs have long since made the DRI Permitting Process unnecessary, a diversion of resources and a hindrance to further advancements in intergovernmental coordination and in the protection of the environment and our natural resources.
Community developments are subjected to requirements that are different from other development. Large-scale mixed use community developments should be encouraged rather than penalized. They accommodate land use mixes that allow the most efficient use of land with higher internal capture of traffic and more efficient provision of drainage, water and sewer utilities.
The DRI Permitting Process should be made optional for all but the very largest developments that span more than one county. Developers should be able to elect to do a DRI regardless of their project size. Those electing not to do a DRI would still be subject to all environmental requirements, comprehensive plans, and concurrency. Current DRI regulations encourage large tracts of undeveloped property to be split up and sold to multiple developers in a way that bypassed the DRI process. This common practice does not encourage good planning.
By making the DRI optional the incentive to break up property into sub-DRI size development will be eliminated and better integrated planning will be encouraged. This will free up significant resources for improved planning programs at all levels of government and be the catalyst that causes State, regional and local governments to find a way to coordinate their plans so that all development will be taken into account.