Making Sense of Subdivision

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Adam Lovelady


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What developments qualify as subdivisions and which ones are exempt?  Who can review a subdivision plat and what standards can apply?  Can the local government require streets and infrastructure?  And what can local governments do with performance guarantees?  A comprehensive resource now is available to answer these and other questions of land subdivision regulation. Read on for the details.

You can now purchase Land Subdivision Regulation in North Carolina here.  This book is a resource for understanding the legal framework and practical applications of land subdivision regulation in North Carolina. The primary audience includes subdivision ordinance administrators, city and county planners, attorneys, and other public and private professionals involved in land subdivision throughout the state. Not intended as a pure legal reference, it nonetheless includes substantial citations and case summaries to assist with legal issues. The cases and legislation referenced in the book is current as of September 30, 2015, so it includes the recent changes to performance guarantees.

The book covers a broad range of issues related to subdivision regulation, from authority and adoption to exactions and enforcement.

After a general introduction in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 discusses the authority for regulation, the process for adopting and amending a subdivision ordinance, the boards involved in subdivision review, and the relation between subdivision ordinances and other public regulations and private agreements. Chapter 3 explores the statutory definition of subdivision and the divisions of land that are exempt from it. Chapter 4 outlines considerations for the subdivision approval process (i.e., quasi-judicial vs. administrative), and Chapter 5 walks through the typical steps of subdivision review, from sketch plan to final plat.

Chapters 6 and 7 shift the focus to subdivision design and standards for improvements. Chapter 6 explores categories of standards, such as lots and blocks, transportation, utilities, and recreation facilities. Chapter 7 discusses different policy concepts related to subdivision regulation, including growth management and styles of development.

Chapter 8 reviews the legal limits for requiring dedication of property and improvements to the public, with a focus on the statutory and constitutional limits. Chapter 9 discusses enforcement matters related to subdivision regulation. Chapter 10 reviews procedures and standards for appeals and judicial review of subdivision decisions.

Finally, Appendix A provides a side-by-side comparison of the statutory authority for cities and counties to regulate land subdivision in North Carolina, while Appendix B presents case summaries of North Carolina court cases related to subdivision regulation and approval.

For individuals involved in the subdivision review process, we hope Land Subdivision Regulation in North Carolina will be helpful resource.

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