T.C.A. §§ 13-3-401 and 13-4-301 define a subdivision as: Dividing any tract or parcel into two or more lots, site, or other divisions requiring new street or utility construction; or. Any division less than five acres for sale of building development.UT Municipal Technical Advisory Service (https://www.mtas.tennessee.edu/reference/subdivision-plat-approval)
Essentially, if you are moving a lot line or creating a new parcel and one or more of the final properties are either less than 5 acres or require the construction of a road or other utilities (excluding simply tying into existing utilities), then it is a subdivision and must go through the proper channels.
If you have to build a road, an actual road, and not just a driveway, then you will need an engineer. If you can divide the property without having to construct the road, then you can hire a surveyor alone.
The process to get a subdivision (or survey) recorded is county-specific but generally follows the following structure and is assuming you are not working with an engineer.
There are essentially two types of approval done in planning, Administrative approval, and Meeting approval. The former means that the development meets the municipality’s authorization to allow the planning staff to “approve” the plat and that it doesn’t have to go in front of the formal planning commission at a meeting. The latter means that it doesn’t and will have to be presented to the planning commission to vote on.
No matter which version you do, the basic process is the same.
- The Survey
- Hire a surveyor
- They survey the boundary
- You and the surveyor determine where the new lines will be based on the zoning and planning regulations, accounting for subsurface disposal (if the land is not served by public sewer), and various other factors.
- Surveyor sets the corners of the property and prepares the “final” map.
- The review process
- The “final” map is presented to planning (either electronically or physically – municipality dependant).
- Planning review the map and makes suggestions for changes/corrections.
- The surveyor makes said corrections and resubmits.
- repeat (until all corrections are made)
- Planning authorizes the map to be finalized and submitted for recording.
- Someone has to acquire signatures. (It should have been determined if the surveyor was going to do it or if it was up to the client before they started the process). These can be any or all of the this list (and perhaps more):
- Surveyor has to sign (original, not a copy). This is typically done when they provide the “final” map to you. There should be adequate copies to ensure that any department that keeps a copy can and still have the last one for recording. If you have to make copies along the way, ensure that you keep at least one with the original surveyor’s signature as this will be needed for recording.
- Owner(s) have to sign. The current owners, not the buyers.
- Addressing (or e911)
- Taxes (City and County)
- Highway Department (regarding the existing road)
- Water Department (if served by public water)
- The sewer department if so served
- The Health Department if to be served by subsurface (septic) disposal. This will likely require that a soil scientist make a high intensity soil map* of the lots. This is not likely included in the survey.
- Electric, Phone, Cable, gas, etc.
- Planning (typically one of the final signaures, if not the last)
- Tax Assessor/mapping
- Record the map. Take one original signed (with all the signatures) copy to the Register of Deeds along with $17 to record the map. They should provide you with the recording data (map book and page) so you can relay this to the title company.
It is likely that some of the review processes will cost. Some municipalities and all of the Departments of Environmental Health charge fees for review. These can be quite costly, depending on the size of the development and the municipality. Again, who is responsible for the fees should have been established at the onset of the project.
* The soil scientist will likely need 2 or more copies of the “final” map to put their information on. This person should have been hired early on in the process as they will need to visit the site to gather the needed information to prepare their map and possibly perform percolation tests. Their fee would need to be negotiated with them. Like the other fees, who is responsible should be established at the onset of the project.