Spring 2024 Issue

Navigating EV Infrastructure Ordinances: A Developer’s Guide

By: Ben Crowder
Locating EV charging stations so they’re accessible for all users, including those with disabilities, is an important consideration for property owners and developers. Mad Squid Productions via iStock/Getty Images Plus

It’s possible to comply with regulations while also taking advantage of opportunities that enhance development projects.

Electric vehicles (EVs) have taken center stage as a feasible and eco-friendly means of transportation in today’s growing landscape of environmental sustainability and responsibility. According to PwC research published in September 2022, an estimated 27 million EVs will be on U.S. roads by 2030.

However, as EV use gains momentum, the need becomes critical for accessible and efficient charging infrastructure. According to the same PwC research, the number of charging ports across the country will increase from 4 million to 
a stunning 35 million by 2030.

As a result, property owners and developers nationwide are increasingly being required to include EV parking spaces in their developments. These spots must be “make-ready,” or equipped with the utility infrastructure required for an EV car-charging provider to install charging stations. In New Jersey, for example, the DCA Model Statewide Municipal EV Ordinance requires up to 15% of commercial parking spaces to be designated make-ready, depending on the specific property use.  

It is important to understand the complexity of EV infrastructure codes and how to not only comply with regulations but also take advantage of opportunities that enhance development projects while contributing to a sustainable future. This article offers guidance on becoming acquainted with the various mandates, understanding how to capitalize on existing incentives and using strategic techniques to maximize return on investment.

Strategizing Charging Locations On-site

Complying with these regulations involves more than simply designating parking spaces for make-ready EV charging. It requires strategic planning for the placement of these spaces within the site.

It may be beneficial to locate the charging stations close to the site’s entrance or exit near the street, where they will be most visible and most accessible to users. This allows for rapid entry and exit while reducing the impact on internal circulation. Locating spaces near available utility infrastructure on the property frontage may also be more cost-effective.

On the other hand, developers may consider locating the spaces near the building. Depending on the use, this could be appealing to the tenant, enticing charging station users to buy, eat or explore while their vehicle charges. Grocery stores, for example, ranked fourth for best location for charging stations, according to survey results from the Boston Consulting Group. Survey recipients cited this spot as being ideal due to paying multiple visits to the store per week and spending enough time shopping to get a substantial EV charge by the time they finished.  

Work with your design team to find the best location for EV charging spaces based on the unique operations of the facility or center. Consider factors such as proximity to main entrances, ample signal strength for a smartphone to connect with the charger, availability of parking spaces, and accessibility for all users, including those with disabilities. Additionally, conducting a thorough analysis of customer behavior and preferences can identify areas within the development that experience high foot traffic, thus making them ideal for installing EV charging stations.

Leveraging the Benefits

Compliance and strategy are not the sole considerations. There is also the prospect of increasing the value of your property, leveraging zoning benefits and taking advantage of federal funding.

Zoning relief: In some instances, the EV spaces provided will allow the project to meet code requirements even if the physical space count is lower than required. Depending on the site, EV make-ready spaces can count for twice the space count, up to 10% of the zoning requirement. This means that a developer with a property with insufficient parking may be able to avoid a parking variance.

Hands-off installation and maintenance: Once the EV parking spaces are approved and make-ready, the developer or owner may choose to self-operate or lease these spaces to one of the many car-charging-station providers in the market. There are many providers and agreement options, including a completely hands-off approach in which the vendor manages all installation and maintenance of the charging stations.

Phased buildout: EV charging stations generally do not have to be installed all at once. In New Jersey, for example, a phased build and installation of charging stations over a defined timeline — two to five years — is recommended. This method allows for the installation of charging stations to coincide with market demand while maintaining essential utility infrastructure.

Federal funding: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act invests $7.5 billion toward EV charging. This includes the $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program and the $2.5 billion Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Discretionary Grant Program. Furthermore, the Inflation Reduction Act has been amended to cover EV charging infrastructure installed through Dec. 31, 2032, making it eligible for a tax credit of up to $100,000.

Moving Forward With EV Infrastructure

The legislation and available funding for EV infrastructure is complex and varies by state and municipality. Engage a knowledgeable and experienced land development consultant to assist your team in assessing potential impacts to site layout and design, strategizing the best location for designated EV charging stations, and maximizing any available benefits — particularly those related to zoning and parking ratios. 

Ben Crowder, PE, is principal and branch manager for Bohler’s Ridgewood, New Jersey, office.



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