What To Do With Development Reserve Zoning, also known as Interim Zoning?

I was recently asked by an appraiser: ”What are the uses of a parcel of property that is zoned Development Reserve (DR)?” Several local governments in central Texas, including City of Austin and Cedar Park, use this interim/temporary zoning designation. The DR zoning is not unique to central Texas, other local governments may call it Urban Reserve or Interim Development Reserve.

It’s important to understand the purpose of development reserve zoning, as well as the type of land which is appropriate for this interim zoning. The City of Austin describes quite well the purpose as “intended for a temporary use or a use that will not commit land to a particular use pattern or intensity.” In addition, the DR designation is intended for “land for which: adequate public services or facilities are not available; economic, demographic, and geographic data is not available; or land use and urban development policies have not been completed.”

In layman’s terms, this means the property does not have “permanent” zoning and according to the local government it is not ready for development. The local government’s goal is to provide orderly development; therefore, once public services and utilities can be provided, development can occur.

Now that development reserve zoning has been explained, you are thinking: “What WILL the permanent zoning be?” That I can't answer, but I can guide you to what the local government has planned for the future with the Future Land Use Map (FLUM). The FLUM is the birds-eye view of general categories and broad land uses and the zoning is required to conform to the FLUM.

Similar to the Zoning Map, the FLUM has categories. Simply locate where the subject property is on the FLUM and note the Future Land Use Category. Details of the category are found in the Comprehensive Plan. For example, if the future land use of the parcel is Local Office/Retail/Commercial, this typically indicates professional office activities, light retail, and service uses aimed at residents in the immediate vicinity. Or, if the future land use of the parcel is Recreation/Open Space, this typically indicates parks, recreational amenities, and open spaces.

Now you have reliable information regarding the potential uses for property zoned with the interim Development Reserve designation.