When is a New Lot a Subdivsion
When is a New
When many people hear the word subdivision they think of a housing development consisting of multiple tracts of land with new roads and utilities. Actually, Tennessee Code states that “…a subdivision is the division of a tract or parcel into two or more lots requiring new streets or utility construction or any division of less than five acres for the purpose, whether immediate or future, of sale or building development.” Subdivisions come under the authority of the Regional Planning Commission.
When land is divided into two tracts in which the new parcel and the remaining parcel are larger than five acres and where both of these tracts front on a public road with utilities available, it is simply a division and exempt from the planning commission. In these cases, subdivision regulations do not apply and the Anderson County Zoning Ordinance which requires 25 feet of frontage on a public road for the issuance of a building permit controls the shape of the parcel.
When property owners with large tracts of land wish to divide parcels from the family holdings so that newer generations can build their own homes and stay close to their roots, they are often intimidated by the subdivision process and having to run the gauntlet of planning commission approval. In the case of exempt divisions of property, land owners only need to procure the services of a land surveyor to survey the property, draw up a plat of the new lot and have a deed prepared to convey that lot.
Health department regulations governing septic tanks and drain fields make it important for the creator of the new lot to be assured that a drain field permit can be obtained before the lot lines are finalized. In some cases, a soil scientist may be required to test the soil and determine the area best suited for a drain field. Regulations governing the location of subsurface disposal fields restrict their proximity to drainage ways, water wells, property lines and structures. Areas where the ground has been disturbed through grading, cutting and filling or where the soil absorption rate is too slow are also restricted. Without verification that a drain field permit has been issued, providers of electric power service will not extend power to the new lot being created.
When these conditions are satisfied, the survey can be completed and a plat recorded at the courthouse, a description of the new lot written and a deed prepared to convey the lot to the intended recipient. Although there is no legal requirement that the plat be recorded, doing so will help to assure that a building permit can be obtained.
When owners of adjoining property wish to move the line between their respective lots, a subdivision may also take place. If the land conveyed from one owner to the other is less than five acres or if each of the affected parcels are smaller than five acres, either before or after the change, then this will come under the authority of the planning commission.
Because of the time required to have a survey done, bringing in a soil scientist, and meeting the schedule of the planning commission, the process most often takes more than a month to complete. Plats must be complete and submitted to the planning commission two weeks before the regular monthly meeting on the second Tuesday of each month. A local surveyor who is familiar with this process and with the local requirements should be able to obtain approval of the subdivision at the meeting for which it is submitted, however, sometimes when all the requirements are not met or planning staffs comments are not satisfied, the survey may be deferred to the next month. Although it appears to be a complicated and difficult process, a professional surveyor who knows the system can take you through the process and help you to achieve your goal.
Noel Peterson is a Professional Surveyor and Engineer, the owner of Coal Creek Surveying & Engineering and can be reached at (865) 323-6994.