Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Planning Commission


October 9, 2008

Staff Lead:


Susan Eddy, Chief of Planning


Community Development



A Text Amendment to Section 9-11 (Eighteen Month Limitation) and Section 9-12 (Plans, Profiles and Specifications) of the Subdivision Ordinance to Change the Eighteen Month Limitation for Preliminary Plats


Topic Description:

The proposed text amendment extends the time to file a Final Plat from eighteen months to three years after approval of a Preliminary Plat.  It authorizes the Planning Commission to grant an additional one year filing extension.  The amendment clarifies that Preliminary Plats are valid for five years.  Lastly, the amendment extends the filing period for Final Plats in multiple phase subdivisions.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

Conduct a public hearing and consider adoption of the attached Ordinance.


Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.


Summary Staff Report: 

The Subdivision Ordinance requires a Final Plat to be filed within eighteen (18) months of Preliminary Plat approval.  Two (2) six (6) month extensions can currently be granted by the Planning Commission.  Planning Division staff has been aware for some time that applicants are having difficulty meeting these deadlines, primarily because in order to file a Final Plat, an applicant must have an approved Construction Plan.  The Construction Plan review process is quite lengthy and detailed. 

In the past, applicants often filed a “placeholder” Final Plat, which had few details, in order to meet the ordinance deadline. Some of these “placeholder” plats have been around for five years. This is no longer possible now that the County uses the Engineers and Surveyors Institute (ESI) for plan review.  “Placeholder” Final Plats cannot pass the ESI review, and thus can no longer be filed. 

After reviewing the length of time it takes to submit and receive approval for a Construction Plan, staff has proposed a three (3) year timeframe for filing a Final Plat.  This should allow an applicant sufficient time to receive approval for a Construction Plan.  Staff has also proposed that the Planning Commission have authority to grant an extension in extenuating circumstances.  While no time limit was proposed at the Planning Commission public hearing, a recent Attorney General’s opinion on this subject noted the requirement for the timeframe to be stated in the ordinance.  Therefore, staff is now suggesting a maximum one (1) year extension in extenuating circumstances.

Another issue, which was recently brought to the attention of the Planning Commission, is the length of time needed to file Final Plats for multiple phase subdivisions.  In the case of the Brookside Development, the Planning Commission granted Brookside an extension for a period of up to fifteen years, provided that at least one Final Plat is recorded within each five-year period subsequent to the date of approval.  In order to comply with the Code of Virginia, staff has recommended that language from §15.2-2260(G) and §15.2-2241 of the Code be added to the Subdivision Ordinance – Once an approved final subdivision plat for all or a portion of the property of a multiple phase development is recorded, the underlying preliminary plat shall remain valid for a period of five years from the date of the latest recorded plat of subdivision for the property or for such longer period as the Planning Commission may, at the time of preliminary plat approval, determine to be reasonable taking into consideration the size and phasing of the proposed development.  Such longer period shall be specifically set forth as a condition of the approval of the preliminary plat.

The Subdivision Ordinance (Section 9-11) contains requirements for filing a Final Plat after approval of a Preliminary Plat, but the Ordinance is silent on the status of the Preliminary Plat if the Final Plat is filed but never approved and recorded.  This text amendment, consistent with the Code of Virginia (§15.2-2260(F)), keeps the Preliminary Plat valid for five years if the Final Plat is filed within the required timeframe.

A minor text amendment is also required to Section 9-12 of the Subdivision Ordinance.  The reference to the eighteen (18) month time limit for Preliminary Plats will need to be changed to a three (3) year time limit.  Also, the reference to Section 9-10 is a typo and needs to be corrected to reference Section 9-11.

This text amendment would affect all valid Preliminary Plats, not just those approved after adoption of this amendment.  Any subdivider with a Preliminary Plat still valid by the date of adoption of this Text Amendment would have three years from the date of Preliminary Plat approval to file a Final Plat.  This protocol is contained in the attached resolution.   

Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:

Property owners with valid Preliminary Plats


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