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Development Agreements

This page provides an overview of development agreements for local governments in Washington State, including examples from cities and counties.


A development agreement is a voluntary contract between a local jurisdiction and a person who owns or controls property within the jurisdiction, detailing the obligations of both parties and specifying the standards and conditions that will govern development of the property. Although the agreements are voluntary, once made they are binding on the parties and their successors.

A development agreement provides assurances to the developer that the development regulations that apply to the project will not change during the term of the agreement. The city or county may impose requirements to mitigate project impacts or require clarification about project phasing and timing of public improvements. RCW 36.70B.170 describes the type of development standards that are appropriate in a development agreement.

Statutory Authority / Legal Requirements

The Local Project Review Act (Ch. 36.70B RCW), enacted in 1995, provides specific authority and direction for development agreements. In particular, see RCW 36.70B.210 and WAC 365-196-845.

Local jurisdictions must hold a public hearing prior to approving a development agreement and may only impose impact fees, dedications, mitigation measures, and standards as authorized by other laws. RCW 36.70B.180 addresses vested rights under a development agreement. For more information, see Development Agreements: Statutory Requirements, Legal Issues, and Practice Tips (2015), which McCullough Hill, PLLC, has consented to share. (Note that since the presentation is from 2015, a local government should do their own research to ensure they are aware of any new legal developments since 2015.)

Examples of Development Agreements

Small Projects

Large or Complex Projects

Other Resources

Amendments, Extension Agreements, and Termination Agreements

Long-term development agreements sometimes require changes as market conditions or other conditions change. Similarly, a developer may need to terminate an agreement if unable to secure financing, or if he wants to do something entirely different with the property. Either party may seek to terminate an agreement if the terms of the agreement have not been met. Most agreements provide some flexibility for such changes, if the parties agree.


Last Modified: February 28, 2024