What is a subdivision? A subdivision is the division of property into two or more lots. The same subdivision process is used for the elimination of property lines or the adjustment of property lines.
A minor subdivision is the division of property into not more than five lots. These lots must be located along an existing public road and must not create a new street or extend an existing street.
A major subdivision is the division of property into six or more lots or any division which creates a new street or extends existing streets.
What do I do if I am using septic tanks? Soils, drain field, septic tank, and building information must be reviewed and approved by the Health Department. Please call the Health Department at 757-253-4813 if you have questions. All septic tank information should be submitted to the Planning Division at the time an application for a subdivision is submitted. The Planning Division will then forward the data to the Health Department for review and approval. The Health Department strongly recommends that an applicant hire a consultant to collect and provide the requested soils and drain field data. If a consultant is not available, the Health Department will provide the needed information. In these instances, the applicant must provide a copy of the Health Department permit or certification letter with the subdivision application.
What is the process for reviewing subdivisions? Your plan will be reviewed using one of two processes, depending upon the size and scope of the proposed project. The first process is DRC review, which culminates in a hearing before the Planning Commission. It is used for larger and more complicated projects. Criteria for DRC review are listed below. Subdivision plans not meeting DRC criteria are processed by an administrative review, which does not involve any hearings.
What must I provide to obtain subdivision approval? You must provide:
- A properly completed and signed application form and correct review fee. Contact the Planning Division at 757-253-6685 for a current application and fee schedule.
- A copy of the previously approved conceptual plan.
- A surveyed plat of the parcel to be subdivided showing the proposed subdivision, boundary line adjustment or lot line extinguishment.
- One reproducible (mylar) copy of the plat will be required in order to receive final approval.
- If you are submitting construction plans for a major subdivision, surveyed plans including the following items will be required:
- site layout
- drainage and erosion control plans
- utility plans
- landscape plans
- drainage calculation data
- water/sewer data sheets
- traffic, roadway, and parking data
- lighting plans
- water demand calculations
The James City Service Authority (JCSA) Standards and Specifications for Water and Sewer Systems and the Regulations Governing Utility Services outline the standards for submitting utility plans. Copies of these standards are available from the JCSA office. Call the JCSA at 757-253- 6800 if you have any questions.
The Development Review Committee (DRC) will review plans that propose any of the following:
- A single building or group of buildings with total floor area exceeding 30,000 square feet
- A residential development of 50 or more units
- Two entrances on the same road
- A fast food restaurant or shopping center
- If there are any unresolved problems between the applicant, adjacent property owners, or any departmental reviewing agency
- If a conceptual plan has not been submitted in accordance with County requirements
- If the site plan varies significantly from an approved conceptual or master plan
If your plan qualifies for DRC review, you will need to submit 14 sets of plans to the Planning Division at least five weeks prior to the DRC meeting date. Please contact Planning staff to find out the DRC meeting schedule. Staff will schedule your request on the DRC agenda. Prior to the DRC meeting, staff will review your application by making a site inspection and verifying the information on your application for compliance with County codes and ordinances. Staff will consider the impact of the site plan on surrounding land uses and public welfare. Additional County and State agencies will review and comment on the plan. When all comments are received, staff will incorporate them into a report for the DRC. You will receive a copy of the staff report in advance of the DRC meeting. At the DRC meeting, staff will present your request to the DRC. You or your representative should attend the meeting. The DRC will recommend preliminary approval, deny, or defer your request, and identify issues you need to address before the Zoning Administrator can sign and approve the plan.
Next, the DRC will present a summary of your case to the Planning Commission and make a recommendation. The Commission may discuss items and ask additional questions, so you or your representative should attend the Planning Commission meeting. The Planning Commission will vote to grant preliminary approval, deny, or defer your request. After the meeting, staff will write you a letter noting what action was taken on your case and what deficiencies need to be addressed before final approval can be granted.
What should I do after the plan receives preliminary approval? Once a plan has preliminary approval, you may contact the Engineering and Resource Protection Division at 757-253-6670 to get information about obtaining a Land Disturbing Permit. This permit allows you to begin clearing, grading, and installing utilities. Fees and surety bonds may be required. Please note that you will have one year to submit revised plans and receive final approval from the Subdivision Agent. If final approval is not granted within one year, and no extension of preliminary approval is granted, the plan becomes void. New applications, fees, and plans will need to be submitted.
When can my plan receive final approval? After you address all comments and submit 10 sets of revised plans, a plan may receive final approval. When a plan receives final approval, you will receive written notification and two copies of the approved plan. You will have 180 days from the time of approval to go to the Courthouse and record the plat, otherwise it will become void. New applications, fees, and plats will need to be submitted. What should I do after the plan receives final approval? Before beginning construction, contact the Building Safety and Permits Division at 757-253-6626 to get information about applying for building permits. It is possible to have subdivision plans and building drawings reviewed concurrently, but a building permit will not be issued until final subdivision approval has been obtained. If you will be connecting to public water and sewer, contact the JCSA at 757-253-6800 to apply for service. There is an availability fee based on the size of the water meter required for the project.
Will I need any other permits? Developments with sewage pumping stations or well facilities require approval from the State Health Department. If any kind of Health Department permit is required, you will have to submit plans to both the Planning Division and the Health Department. Please note that certain water and sewer facilities may require a special use permit before a site plan can get preliminary or final approval.
Are there any special road access requirements? Yes. If you are proposing to subdivide a parcel into 3, 4 or 5 lots, access to those lots must come from a single shared driveway. Please check with Planning staff for further requirements and examples.