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Top 10 Ways (Plus 1) to Work with a Developer

Unravel the bureaucratic puzzle by providing clear information.

By Jim Coffman, RLA, ASLA

Have clear trail plan properly approved and adopted by local governmental jurisdiction

Have detailed design guidelines/standards

Be able to answer the liability question

Be able to say who's responsible for maintenance and to what standard it will be done

Stress the need to make the trail connect point A to Point B. You have some flexibility to keep it out of the most sensitive part of their site-- especially if it is a gated community.

Illustrate how a trail can be developed within already set aside land, i.e. building setbacks, drainage easements, utility easements, etc. Not necessarily another "TAKING"!!!!

Illustrate how the trail can be constructed (usually, and at least in the desert) with materials already budgeted in the landscape estimates.

Show how this trail works into an overall system of trails. Theyíre neither the first or last to be asked to provide a trail.

Show positive examples of already built trails that have been successfully integrated into a development and received well by the buyers, and the public-- good PR for their company.

Meet on the developers turf to discuss project.

Better yet, meet on-site to discuss the project.

Emphasize the need for signage that directs users onto the trail and off of private property (best situation is for the governmental agency to provide at least the sign standard and at best the sign for installation)

Offer assistance in helping to lay out the trail on the site when the time comes.

Have studies/articles at your fingertips that squelch some big concerns such as:

  • "Trails will hurt property value!" Trails will at the worst be neutral to your property value and at best will increase property value.
  • "Hordes of criminals will use the trail to rob my buyers' property!" Trails will not increase crime. Maybe offer to provide emergency phone boxes at key locations if adamant.
  • "Why do I have to do it and other people haven't?" Show the approved/adopted plan and have pictures of existing trails that have been dedicated. Have copies of advertisements of development that have trails and use them in their marketing.


Have a trail constituent (politically astute and emotionally stable) meet with you and the developer to discuss the trail and be passionate about it.

Jim Coffman, RLA, ASLA President
AZASLA COFFMAN STUDIO, LLC, 2126 S. La Rosa Drive Tempe, AZ 85282
c 602.790.8311 - p 480.966.3822 - f 480.966.3885

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