Subdivisions, Preliminary Plats & Short Plats

More Questions? Contact the Zoning Division at 343-7942

What do I need to apply?

  1. Original Application for Preliminary Plat with original signatures.
  2. 45 copies (35 copies if short plat) of the completed application. 
  3. 45 copies of the preliminary plat (35 copies if short plat). The copies must be on paper 18"x24", or 24"x 35" or 31½" x 34". The scale is 1"=100'. With approval of the Platting Office 1"=200' is permissible.  
  4. A copy of the certificate to plat.  
  5. One copy of each of the following on 8½x11 paper, black ink, suitable for copying, with the property outline marked: an aerial photograph; a topographic map; a housing stock map; a zoning map; and the preliminary plat.
  6. The application fee.
  7. Completed Watershed sign-off form.

The following items are required unless waived by the Platting Officer:

  1. 4 copies of a topographic map. (may be waived it land form is generally even.)  
  2. 4 copies of soils test to depth of 16 feet. (may be waived if site is served by public sewer and water.)
  3. As-built.

Do I need a professional to represent me?

Although it is possible to prepare a preliminary plat without professional help it may not be always cost effective unless you are a surveyor or civil engineer. The final plat must be stamped by a licensed surveyor to complete the subdivision process and often engineering expertise is required in subdivision design. If you decide you need professional help, petitioners most often select a private planner, surveyor, or civil engineer to advise and/or represent them.

How long will it take?

The Planning Department operates a first come first served system for scheduling preliminary plat public hearings. The minimum amount of time for a preliminary plat from acceptance to the public hearing is about 45 days. However, if there are more preliminary plats than the Platting Board can hear in one meeting the Planning Department then fills each scheduled meeting in order. If the Platting Board's docket is filled for many meetings, the amount of time between turning in a preliminary plat and its public hearing depends on the number of preliminary plats in line ahead of it.

If the preliminary plat is approved the Platting Board the amount of time it takes to get to the final plat is mostly up to you. However, once the final plat is accepted by the Planning Department it usually takes 2 to 3 weeks until it is filed with District Recorder.

What is the likelihood that my subdivision will be approved?

Preliminary plats that comply with the subdivision regulations, the zoning regulations, and the comprehensive plan are nearly always approved. The approval will usually have conditions included that must be satisfied. A condition example would be "executing an agreement with the municipality to construct streets."

What happens before the public hearing?

To get ready for the public hearing the Planning Department does the following:

  1. Gives you one or more placards to post on the property. The placards must be posted at least 21 days before the public hearing.  
  2. Assigns a case number to the preliminary plat for tracking and reference purposes.  
  3. Sends a copy of your preliminary plat to a number of public agencies and the local Community Council for comment. The primary public agencies are Public Works and the public utilities. The Community Councils often discuss Platting Board matters at their monthly meetings. You may wish to contact the council for the scheduled time and location and then attend the meeting.  
  4. Mails a "Notice of Public Hearing" to each of your neighbors within a minimum of 500 feet of your property.  
  5. The planner as well as other public agency staff assigned to your preliminary plat will visit the property and may take photographs.  
  6. A report is written and published to advise the Platting Board of the Planning Department's findings and recommendation. The report is available on the Friday before the hearing or at the public hearing. The report is available on the Friday before the hearing or at the public hearing. It is also posted on the Municipal website at Zoning and Platting Cases Online Notification System.

What happens at the public hearing?

The public hearings are held in the Assembly Chambers at Loussac Library. The Platting Board follows a published agenda. The hearing of each preliminary plat generally follows these steps:

  1. The chair will introduce the case and explain the procedure to be followed. The preliminary plat case number and the name of the applicant are read into the record.  
  2. The chair will give the Planning Department 10 minutes to briefly outline the case.  
  3. You or your representative will then have 10 minutes for his/her presentation. The board members may direct questions to you through the chair. You may reserve a portion of your time for rebuttal.  
  4. The chair opens the hearing for public testimony. Each person may testify for no more than three minutes and may be questioned by the board, through the chair, at anytime during such presentation.  
  5. The chair closes the hearing to public testimony.  
  6. The applicant has the right of rebuttal using the time reserved from the presentation.  
  7. The chair will ask for a positive motion from the board. There will be separate motions if there are vacations or variances being considered.  
  8. The chair and the board discuss the motion and facts in support of or in opposition to the preliminary plat.  
  9. The chair calls for roll call vote on the motion. No matter how many Board members are present it takes 5 yes votes to approve a preliminary plat.  
  10. The chair will advise the applicant of the board's action, including findings of fact and conclusions of law, and of the applicable appeal rights.

What if I have a short plat?

Short plats follow the same pre-public hearing steps. There is no legal notice other than a newspaper ad and there is no public hearing. At the date noticed by the Planning Department, which is approximately 45 days after the preliminary plat is accepted, the Platting Officer takes action on each preliminary plat. Those that are approved follow the same steps as a normal final plat except that approval is limited to 18 months with no possible extensions.

Short plats that are denied may be appealed to the Platting Board and follow the same steps as a normal preliminary plat with a public hearing.

What do I do if my subdivision is approved?

To complete the subdivision process a final plat must be filed with the Alaska State District Recorder within the time allowed by the Platting Board which ranges from 18 to 60 months. Within the approval time period all conditions placed on the approval must be satisfied. The final plat Mylar must be drawn complete with survey computations. If a subdivision agreement is required it must be made ready for recording.

The final plat must be delivered to Planning Department with the survey data. Signatures of property owners and beneficial interests as shown on the certificate to plat must be on the Mylar and properly notarized. The current year real estates taxes must be paid, even if the taxes are not yet due.

When all agencies are satisfied the final plat is complete it will be taken by the Planning Department to the District Recorder for filing.

What do I do if my subdivision is denied?

There are 3 options available to you if your preliminary plat is denied.

  1. Stop consideration of subdividing the land.  
  2. Prepare a new preliminary plat that resolves the issues that caused the Platting Board to reject the previous preliminary plat and reapply.  
  3. File a notice of appeal with the Municipal Clerk's office to have the Platting Board's action reviewed by the Board of Adjustment. The Board of Adjustment process is a strict legal review with a fairly rigid legal procedure. The Municipal Assembly is the Board of Adjustment, but the Assembly members may not be contacted about the appeal except during the actual hearing. You may wish to consult an attorney before filing an appeal.

Where can I find the actual laws regarding subdivisions?

The text of the Municipality Code of Ordinances and the Code of Regulations is available at the Municipal libraries, the Planning Department, and on the Internet at municode.

For subdivisions review the following:

  • Preliminary plat procedures and standards AMC 21.15.100; 21.15.110; 21.15.115
  • Final plat procedures and standards AMC 21.15.120
  • Short plat procedures AMC 21.15.125

What is...?  (terminology)

A certificate to plat?  A document provided by a land title company that lists property ownership, recorded easements, and financial encumbrances, such as liens, judgments, and deeds of trust.

A cut-off date?  The Planning Department establishes an annual schedule for the Platting Board public hearings which includes enough time between accepting a preliminary plat application and the public hearing to do the legal notice to neighbors and solicit information from government agencies and citizens on the subdivision. The cut-off date is the starting point and the last day a preliminary plat can be accepted for a specific hearing.

A final plat?  A final plat is a drawing done by a licensed surveyor on Mylar film that accurately depicts the location of all property lines. The final plat is the document filed with the State of Alaska District Recorder before lots may be sold. The term Mylar and final plat refer to the same document.

The Platting Authority?  The Platting Authority is which ever board, commission or staff that is granted the power to approve new subdivisions. Most often it is the Platting Board, followed the Platting Officer, and sometimes the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The Platting BoardThe Platting Board is made up of 9 citizens appointed by the Mayor to hear, examine the proposed subdivisions and the law, and decide on whether to grant or deny a preliminary plat. The appointed Board members are not municipal employees. The Board meets once a month on the 1st Wednesday.

The Platting OfficerThe Planning Department assigns the duties to administer the subdivision regulation and the process of subdividing to a staff member. That staff member is designated as the Platting Officer.

A platting variance?  The subdivision regulatory system recognizes that not all property is equal. A variance is a method used in the subdivision processes to insure that each property is treated equally or has parity with neighboring properties.

A preliminary plat?  A preliminary plat is a drawing usually done by a surveyor of the proposed design of a new subdivision.

A short plat?  Certain minor subdivisions may be approved by the Platting Officer through a no public hearing process.

A vacation?  When street right-of-way or easements are removed from a property it is called a vacation.