OTTAWA COUNTY, KANSAS
After many months of study and public meetings, the Ottawa County, Kansas, Comprehensive Plan was adopted by the Ottawa County Planning Board and approved by the Board of County Commissioners in February 2005. The County Commissioners have designated Truette McQueen as County Subdivision Administrator. His office is located on the first floor of the Courthouse in Suite 106 and his telephone number is (785) 392‑3037.
Responsible land subdivision is the initial step in the process of orderly rural and urban development. Once land has been divided into streets and blocks, multiple ownerships of lots and parcels and publicly recorded, the correction of defects is difficult and costly. Subdivision regulations basically serve as an instruction manual on how to plan, design and process a plat for public recording purposes so that land can conveniently be sold or transferred as surveyed lots or parcels. These regulations are designed and intended to serve the following purposes:
A. To provide for the harmonious development of the unincorporated area of Ottawa County by providing for a fair and uniform process to record the layout of land.
B. To provide for (1) desirable lot layouts, (2) efficient and orderly location and width of streets and roadways and the extent and manner in which they shall be improved, and (3) storm water drainage.
C. To provide for adequate water supply, sewage disposal, various utility services and other improvements to protect public health, safety and general welfare.
D. To provide for and secure to the proper governmental agencies and utility providers the actual construction of all such necessary on‑site and off‑site public improvements including the reservation or dedication of land for public purposes.
E. To provide protection from periodic flooding conditions.
F. To reserve or dedicate land for open space to preserve natural areas for watercourses, drainage ways, wetlands, woodland, rugged topography, wildlife habitat, and for water quality and quantity, and to protect land from soil erosion.
G. To avoid water and air pollution and the congestion of population and traffic.
H. To facilitate safety by adequate access for fire fighting equipment and police protection.
I. To coordinate the subdividing of land with applicable zoning regulations, floodplain regulations, sanitation codes and other regulations which also affect the development of the land;
These regulations apply to land in single ownership where the owner desires to:
1. Divide land that creates two lots or parcels including the original property;
2. Alter the boundaries of lots or parcels; or
3. Establish rights of way for streets, roads, etc. for public purposes or for purchasers of lots or parcels.
There are several important exemptions which would not require land to be platted:
A. Any lots or parcels already legally subdivided and recorded. This does not include "plats of survey" which are simply surveyed pieces of land.
B. A division of land that creates only one new lot or parcel which: (1) doesn't necessitate a new street or easement, (2) is not in a floodable area, (3) is for agricultural or single‑family residential purposes only, (4) meets the County Sanitary Code, and (5) conforms to the County Zoning Regulations.
C. A landowner in an agricultural zoning district could sell or transfer any number of lots or parcels of 20 acres or more which (1) don't need any new streets or easements; (2) is not in a floodable area; (3) is used for agricultural or single‑family residential purposes only, (4) meets the Sanitary Code; and (5) conforms to the Zoning Regulations.
Comments: When lots or parcels are created under exemptions B and C above, dedications to widen right of way existing may be required by separate instrument at such time as application is made later for a zoning permit. Such lots or parcels are also eligible for the exemptions in B and C to continue the division of land.
D. A change of boundary between lot owners which does not create a substandard existing lot or a new lot for development.
Comments: This happens more in urban areas, but occasionally in rural areas. For examples: a piece of land to straighten a fence line, to correct a boundary title, to make it easier to farm a field, to create a better drainage flow, to increase the size of a legal lot.
E. A conveyance or dedication of land or interest therein for use as a street, highway, road or railroad right of way or an easement for drainage or public utilities where no new street or easement of access is created.
F. The layout of burial plots in cemeteries; however, the actual cemetery tract is not exempt.
G. Any lot split in a platted subdivision in industrially zoned areas.
H. Any transfer by operation of law.
A plat is a map or drawing on which the subdivider's plan of the subdivision is presented and which he or she submits for approval and intends in final form to record. There are several different types of plats depending upon their purpose in the approval and recording process. These are:
1.SKETCH PLAN: A map or plan of a proposed subdivision made prior to the preparation of the preliminary plan to enable the subdivider to save time and expense in reaching tentative general agreements by a discussion of the form and objectives of the regulations as applied to their proposal.
2.PRELIMINARY PLAT: A tentative map or plan of a proposed subdivision of land showing the character and general details of the proposed development. A topographic survey is needed and usually an accompanying drainage plan. Such plats should be prepared by a land planner who is a professional architect, engineer or landscape architect licensed in the State of Kansas. Surveyors may also prepare such plats; provided, that public water and sewer systems and street and drainage designs are not anticipated.
3.FINAL PLAT: A formal document by drawing and writing representing a subdivision which is prepared in accordance with these regulations to be placed on record with the County Register of Deeds. Such a plat must be prepared by a licensed surveyor registered in Kansas. The county surveyor or designee must review and approve the surveying information on the plat before it can be recorded.
4.FINAL PLAT FOR SMALL TRACTS: A plat similar to a final plat described above except limited in size and number of lots. Topography is not required; however, a drainage plan may or may not be necessary.
5.REPLAT: A new plat or a revision to a subdivision or portion thereof for which a final plat has previously been recorded. The approval of a replat is processed in the same manner as a final plat.
A lot split is not a plat and cannot create a right of way or easement by being recorded. It is recorded; however, to create a new legal lot with a proper description for a sale or transfer. It is established by dividing a lot in a recorded plat or replat of a subdivision into not more than two parcels which creates an additional lot and meets the criteria established within the regulations.
The procedure for approval of plats generally follows this pattern. The subdivider may submit a free‑hand sketch plan if he or she desires to receive the pre‑plat comments of the Planning Board and staff. This step may save time and money if there are problems which can be resolved early. In the next step, a preliminary plat must be prepared by a land planner who lays out the subdivision into lots with streets and easements and relates them to a topographic survey. Once the preliminary plat is approved by the Planning Board with or without modifications, the last step is the submittal of the final plat within the next 12 months. This drawing by a licensed surveyor shows exact dimensions of all lots, rights of way and easements. After approval by the Planning Board, the final plat is transmitted to the County Commissioners to accept the dedications thereon for recording. For larger subdivisions, units of the preliminary plat may be submitted as individual final plats within a 5‑year period. As a short cut method for platting not more than four lots, subdivisions of not more than 20 acres, if residential, or 10 acres for all other uses, may proceed directly to a final plat for small tracts if no new streets or access or easements are involved. Replats for recorded final plats and those for small tracts are processed in the same manner as regular final plats.
Contents of preliminary and final plats are described in the regulations and delineating such data is the responsibility of the land planner and/or surveyor. Filing fees are determined by a resolution of the County Commissioners.
The regulations describe minimum design standards which again are the responsibility of the land planner and/or surveyor. Standards are provided for streets, alleys, easements, sidewalks, lots, blocks and land subject to flooding. Provisions are made to work with the subdivider on public facility sites including parks and open space. Minimum lot sizes are determined by the applicable zoning district and the standards of the County Sanitary Code for Environmental Protection. Subdivisions may be designed in such a layout that it is possible to convert from rural to urban‑type subdivisions as public water and sewerage becomes available.
As a condition to final plat acceptance, the subdivider of a proposed subdivision shall be responsible to install or in cooperation with governmental bodies and/or utility providers, cause to be installed the necessary facilities and improvements. The design and installation of such facilities and improvements shall include such sizing of pipes and extensions of streets as may be deemed desirable within the subdivision to facilitate development of adjacent land. All streets, alleys, curbs, gutters and street drainage facilities shall be constructed in accordance with established County standards and are subject to final inspection and acceptance by the applicable township trustees, homeowners' association or the County for maintenance. Public water supplies and sewer systems must meet the minimum standards of the State Department of Health and Environment. On‑site water supply and sewage disposal must meet the minimum standards of the County Sanitary Code for Environmental Protection. Fire hydrants are required where the water supply can sustain such service. When the final plat is approved, the surveyor must certify that all survey monuments are in place.
Several methods are provided to guarantee that required improvements are installed. These may involve bonding or some form of financial guarantee if the subdivider undertakes the installation. Petitions may also be submitted and, if accepted, the County would design and oversee the construction. For streets and drainage in rural subdivisions, plats can be withheld from recording by the County Commissioners until improvements are constructed and arrangements made for a homeowners' association to assume the ownership and maintenance responsibility.
Provisions are included in the regulations for a subdivider aggrieved by the enforcement of these regulations by the Subdivision Administrator or the Planning Board to appeal for consideration to the County Commissioners. Waivers by the County Commissioners are provided where the installation of improvements would not prove feasible or necessary. Modifications to design criteria may be made by the Planning Board if an undue hardship would be created.
While platting is a method of establishing rights of way, easements and other features of subdividing land, vacating is a process of removing them from the public record. The regulations provide for procedures by which streets or alley rights of way, access control, easements, building setback lines, public reservations and entire subdivisions can be vacated and returned to the landowners from which the original dedications were made. Notification is required by advertising in the official newspaper and providing individual notice to affected landowners and utility providers. Following a hearing and recommendation by the Planning Board, the County Commissioners make the final decision to vacate by filing an "order" with the Register of Deeds.
Think of your County as a giant jigsaw puzzle and each division of land over time is creating the pieces. How well those pieces are going to fit together and provide the desired service will affect the quality of development, the sustained value of property and the enjoyment of landownership for decades.
OTTAWA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
James P. Kay
OTTAWA COUNTY PLANNING BOARD
Martha A. Tasker, Chairman
Phil Ballou, Vice Chairman
Gary C. Keating, Secretary/Treasurer
Truette McQueen, Zoning Administrator
Kim Winsett, Recording Secretary
Summary prepared by C. Bickley Foster, J.D./AICP of Foster & Associates, Planning Consultants, Wichita, Kansas ‑- August 2005.