Our Services – Planning

Written by: Max Garcia

What if you want to build a restaurant from scratch? Or you’re interested in building a 200-lot townhouse subdivision with an accompanying park? Or you see an opportunity in revitalizing an abandoned building to open a custom guitar shop? As Planners for your project, we determine the feasibility of your concept, communicate with governing agencies that will review it, establish a plan of action, and represent you in the public hearings that are often associated with new development.

What is Planning?

Planning is the role in development that clarifies early phases of land entitlement, help with your concept designs, and align your goals as a developer, property owners, or the public with the local government. Planners at MDG introduce your early concepts to government agencies and maneuver around any roadblocks to get your idea approved to build.

why is Planning important?

Planning will guide your development plans through the first rounds of government regulation. Submitting applications for approval, coordinating with various government agencies, learning about the variety of local regulations associated with new development, and speaking to government officials can be a daunting and intimidating experience. Hiring a Planner to guide you through the entitlement process will greatly reduce the time and stress you dedicate to realizing your idea.

The Key Elements of Planning

A few essential elements of Planning are: 

  1. Due Diligence. 
    To ensure your project is ready to be invested in with time and capital, the concept must be feasible for the proposed location. During this first phase, the Planning team will get an understanding of current allowed uses for the land and how the proposed concept fits within the established land use pattern. During this phase we attempt to find any “red flags” that could render a project infeasible.
  2. Concept Planning.
    The Planner wants to design something that will fit into the community – we will take your idea, join our design team, and put it down on paper to create a professional concept design for your site that is compliant with local regulation and ready for submitting to proper authorities.
  3. Application Submittal & Coordination. 
    In many cases your project may require submitting applications to confirm & approve the viability of a project. We coordinate with the local government and other land professionals in order to establish a clear understanding of the concept by all necessary parties.
  4. Public Hearings & Approval. 
    Many of the aforementioned applications are completed in preparation for a formal approval by local elected or designated officials in a public presentation setting. These meetings require the upmost preparation and a clear understanding of many project details. Planners at MDG are comfortable in this setting and you can trust us to get your project formally approved.

Why Do We Recommend this Service?

Planning establishes a plan of action for your development and allows you to starting submitting permits for construction and meanwhile assists you in navigating the ordinances and initial government processes. Utilizing a Planning professional determines if your project is feasible in the eyes of the local government and gets your project APPROVED!

What Should You Know?

Best time to get creative. During the early phases, and before engineers begin investing a lot of their time is when it is easiest to change a concept. Planners enjoy brainstorming and can guide you to a design that is compliant with local standards.

These processes can take a long time. Vetting out the formal approval of a concept requires the scrutiny of several agencies and formal review of dense applications. During these initial application reviews, unforeseen variables are common. As a Planner, we anticipate many of these limits before they occur within the intention of getting a project approved as soon as possible. 

Planning occurs before you pull your first permits. Our heavy lifting occurs long before you’ve submitted formal engineered plans for development or begin construction. Planners at MDG hope to make you comfortable with your concept before it may be too late to turn back or too much capital has been invested.

A Real Life Example

The Planning team assisted with the creation of a PUD (Planned Unit Development) for an affordable apartment complex off SR 207 serving St. Johns County. This was in coordination with St. Johns County’s goal of using CDBG-DR funding from hurricane-preparedness to fund an affordable housing development. As part of the text, we planned for the amenity center to double as an emergency shelter during hurricanes helping to be more adaptive to natural disasters as well fill a need for more affordable housing in the County.

Meet Our Planning Team

Shannon Acevedo, AICP

Senior Planner

Shannon has over five years of land development planning experience currently leading the planning efforts at MDG and previously supervising a team of planners at St. Johns County. She enjoys master planning and playing the part of “plan-gineer” helping our clients achieve their development goals by coordinating with the rest of the MDG team for insights and design. Prior to her time in the St. Augustine area, Shannon built and analyzed socioeconomic data including employment statistics and transportation/land use spatial patterns for the Maricopa Association of Governments in Phoenix, AZ. She earned her Master of Urban and Environmental Planning from Arizona State University and has published work on the topic of resilience.



Max Garcia


Max has a few years of community planning experience and currently supports the planning efforts at MDG and was recently a Planner for the City of Port Orange, Florida. He graduated from Auburn University where he spent a few years thereafter gaining experience in community planning with local government.  He is specifically skilled in ordinance research, concept planning, site plan review, and land development due diligence.



In need of planning services for your project? We would be happy to partner with you!


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