Yes, that is a common and reputable development strategy. Not all themes require registration – but when they do, these registration systems are implemented by the author, not Envato.
And unfortunately they almost always fail to address development installations in these systems. In a worst case scenario, you can still update the theme manually.
If you’re saying that you wish to activate locally instead of on production, and are unable because of some error (e.g. license has already been activated), then yes, you can contact the author to clear that.