How to Subdivide Property: The Major Subdivision Process

aerial photo of houses in a subdivision tract

A subdivision is the division or combination of any parcel, or parcels of land into 1 or more lots, tracts, or parcels for the purpose of transfer of ownership or building development. In effect, any change in a property description is subject to review under the City's subdivision ordinance. No one may subdivide property without following the City's Subdivsion Regulations.

Major Subdivision?

A major subdivision is the dividing of a lot, tract or parcel into six or more lots, tracts or parcels, any division of previously unplatted land, or any division of land that creates a new street. Both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council must approve all major subdivisions.

The following steps will guide you through the major subdivision process. Staff is available at any point during the subdivision process to assist you or your representative with any questions or concerns you may have. There is also a no-cost Pre-Subdivision Review Commmitte (see application online).

First Step: Initial Contact

You are encouraged to contact the Zoning and Subdivision Services Division of the Planning and Development Department for general information. The staff can inform you of the deadlines and processing time involved; any special circumstances that need to be considered; any requirements that may be made, and can give you an initial impression of what the City's response may be to your plans.

Copies of the Subdivision Regulations containing all the City's regulations on the subdivision of property are available for a fee from Zoning and Subdivision Services or online. You should also contact the Public Works Department and City Utilities at this stage to find out what information they may need and any requirements they may have. It is recommended, but not required, that you hire a surveyor or engineer to assist you at this stage.

The overall length of time from the sketch plan deadline to the approval of the Preliminary Plat is 60 to 74 days. Staff review of the Final Plat takes an average of two to four weeks. It will take time for you to construct any required improvements before your plat can be recorded. Please keep this time frame in mind and start the process early enough that you will be able to sell lots or get building permits when you need them.

Second Step: Pre-Subdivision Review

You must submit a Plan showing conceptually how you want to subdivide your property. You should bring seven copies of your Plan and the completed Pre-Subdivision Review Application form to Zoning and Subdivision Services for review by City staff (only one copy if submitted electronically through e-plans). The Pre-Subdivision Review meeting is open to the public. The Zoning and Subdivision Services staff will notify you the time and date of your meeting with staff. After the meeting, staff will send you a letter containing all of staff's comments, suggestions, requirements, or corrections that must be made to your plat.

Third Step: Preliminary Plat

At this point you must hire a surveyor or engineer, if you haven't already done so, to prepare your Preliminary Plat. The Subdivision Regulations and the Preliminary Plat Checklist will assist your surveyor or engineer in preparing your Preliminary Plat.

All of the following items must be submitted to constitute a complete Preliminary Plat submittal:

  • Completed Preliminary Plat application signed by the property owner at the time the application is filed (if more than one property is involved, you must submit an application from the owner of each property)
  • the administrative processing see fee schedule 12 copies of your Preliminary Plat, 13 if on a State Highway (one of which is a blackline 11 by 17 inch print), signed and sealed by the surveyor (if submitted electronically through e-plans only one copy is required)

You will be notified of the date, time and place of the Administrative Review Committee meeting. The Committee will review your preliminary plat to determine if all the required information is shown correctly on the preliminary plat. If so, the preliminary plat will be placed on the Planning and Zoning Commission agenda.

You will be notified of the date, time and place of the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. City staff will review your Preliminary Plat. Staff will advise you and/or your surveyor or engineer of any corrections, comments, or additional requirements.

Zoning and Subdivision Services staff will prepare a staff report to the Planning and Zoning Commission that will contain the staff recommendation to the Commission. The recommendation will contain any conditions of approval that City staff considers appropriate. These conditions typically include requirements for additional right-of-way; construction of streets, sidewalks and stormwater detention facilities; limitations of access, etc. You will receive a copy of the staff report the week prior to the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

You or your representative should attend the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. The Commission might not vote on your Preliminary Plat if they have questions and you are not there to answer them.

If the Planning and Zoning Commission approves your Preliminary Plat it will be sent to City Council for their approval. If the Commission denies the Preliminary Plat you may appeal to City Council by sending a letter to the Planning and Development Department requesting Council action.

City Council will have two meetings (two weeks apart) on your Preliminary Plat. You or your representative are not required to attend the City Council meetings, but it is recommended that you attend the first meeting in case City Council has any questions. City Council will approve, deny or table your Preliminary Plat at the second meeting. If your Preliminary Plat is approved, you will be sent a copy of the ordinance containing all the conditions of that approval. You have two years in which to submit a Final Plat that substantially conforms to your Preliminary Plat. If City Council denies your Preliminary Plat, you may appeal the decision to Circuit Court.

Fourth Step: Final Plat

You must submit engineering plans for all the required public improvements to the Public Works Department prior to this stage. Public Works cannot review a final plat without having approved public improvement plans on file.

You may submit a Final Plat on all or a portion of the area within the Preliminary Plat. The Subdivision Regulations and the Final Plat Checklist will assist your surveyor or engineer in preparing your Final Plat.

All of the following items must be submitted to constitute a complete Final Plat submittal:

  • A completed Final Plat application signed by the current property owner
  • Fifteen check prints of the Final Plat for review (only one copy if submitted electronically through e-plans)
  • the Final Plat see fee schedule
  • all recording fees
  • Certification of Title signed by the property owner
  • Subordination Agreement for each lien holder (if there are any)

A complete Final Plat submittal renews your Preliminary Plat approval for two additional years. If a Final Plat has not been submitted within two years, your Preliminary Plat must be re-approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council by the end of the second year or it will expire and you will be required to submit a new Preliminary Plat.

You submit the check prints of your Final Plat to Zoning and Subdivision Services. The check prints will be reviewed by City staff. When the other departments return their comments to Zoning and Subdivisions, staff will advise you and/or your surveyor or engineer of any corrections, comments or further requirements that must be addressed.

The staff review of the Final Plat and the improvement plans requires an average of two to four weeks, but this time frame can be lengthened or shortened by many factors. Staff will gladly discuss ways to speed up the review process on individual cases.

You must submit 14 prints (15 if on a state highway) and two mylars of the corrected Final Plat to Zoning and Subdivision Services (only one copy if submitted electronically through e-plans). These prints and mylars will be held until a written release is received from Public Works stating that all the public improvements required by City ordinances for your subdivision have been completed. All improvements must either be constructed and accepted by the City or you must provide adequate financial assurances acceptable to Public Works. Financial assurances are valid for one year.

When the written release is received from Public Works the Zoning and Subdivision Services staff will record your Final Plat. You may then sell lots or obtain building permits.

As stated above, the submittal of a Final Plat renews your Preliminary Plat approval for two additional years. If a Final Plat is recorded for one phase of your Preliminary Plat, the remainder of your Preliminary Plat is valid for one year. If you are unable to submit another Final Plat within that year you must ask for your Preliminary Plat to be renewed.


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