How to Find Out If Your Land Can Be Subdivided

If you have a large piece of property, there are advantages to subdividing it. Maybe you want to build a new housing tract. You might want to sell a portion of the undeveloped land while keeping your current residence. Or perhaps you have unused farm land that could command a favourable price for developers if you can parcel something off that is just the right size. Ideally, a local code enforcement officer can answer all your questions, but be prepared to take additional measures in case the process becomes complicated.

Review your property title and appraisal documents to pinpoint the exact size, location as far as latitude and longitude, and zoning classification of your property.

Contact the local code enforcement officer for a detailed explanation of what types of uses are allowed in that area--businesses, industrial or residential only. Certain zones may have minimum or maximum lot sizes. That will give you a sense of how many separate lots could be created out of your entire parcel.

Review the local zoning ordinances/codes for your area. If they are not available online, you can read them at the municipal clerk's office. The ordinances/codes manual will have important information that the code enforcement officer won't have right off the top of his or her head. Beyond just noting which uses are allowed in each zone, it will indicate additional regulations for proximity to wetlands, state highways, flood zones, certain types of buildings or buffer areas that separate residential neighbourhoods from commercial areas. You may not be able to subdivide if there are lot size restrictions based on those entities.

Submit a subdivison proposal to the local Zoning Board of Appeals or Planning Board, Those governing bodies either decide whether the property can be subdivided, or make recommendations before leaving the final decision to a town board or county legislature. According to Business.gov, local governments may require the applicant to include plans for water, gas and sewer services or a commitment to providing that infrastructure before subdivision approval is granted.

Tip

A recent survey may also be required for subdivision approval.

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About the Author

Aaron Gifford is based in New York. He has been on staff at the "Syracuse Post-Standard," the "Watertown Daily Times" and the "Oneida Daily Dispatch." He's also written for "Long Island Newsday," "Empire State Report" magazine and "In Good Health." He has been writing professionally since 1995. Gifford holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University at Buffalo.

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