Allen County Minor Plat Ordinance

BACKGROUND

In fall of 2007, there were four major changes proposed to the Allen County Subdivision Control Ordinance. First, subdivisions that involve no more than six units in certain agricultural zones would be subject to review under a more streamlined process called “Minor Plat” Review rather than the current subdivision review process. Second, the Proposal would subject to either Minor Plat review or the full scale subdivision approval process some subdivisions that appear to be exempt from review under the current subdivision ordinance. Third, the Proposal requires the registration of “Metes and Bounds Subdivisions,” which were previously created through an exemption from the subdivision control process. Fourth, the Proposal would scale back the ability to use Roadway Easements for access to lots created through a subdivision exemption. On December 14, 2007 the Commissioners adopted these changes to the Allen County Subdivision Control Ordinance.

ASSOCIATION POSITION IN 2007

When these changes were presented, the Upstate Alliance of REALTORS®® was supportive of creating a streamlined Minor Plat Review process that would expedite the approval of smaller subdivisions. Our concern lies with the elements of the Ordinance that scaled back the scope of the existing exemptions because it is problematic both in terms of how it was crafted and the unintentional consequences created. The changes upset the longstanding expectations of many landowners in affected parts of the County, with respect to how they can expect to develop and profit from their land.

STATUS UPDATES

In fall of 2008, several Allen County Commission members had concerns about the changes made to the Allen County Subdivision Control Ordinance in 2007. The Commission members agreed to create a workgroup to meet with Allen County Planning staff to analyze the content of the Ordinance and recommend changes for the Commission to consider. The workgroup met monthly between January and June. In July, Allen County Planning staff presented the proposed changes to the commission members for their consideration. In August, the Commission decided to push the changes forward and schedule a public hearing for October 15, 2009 at 1:00 PM.

SUMMARY OF PROPOSED CHANGES

The current proposal includes revision to the purpose statement, limiting interconnection between minor plats, additional standards for the third or more consecutive plats, and standards for individual septic systems and private wells.

The purpose statement was altered changing the original intent which was to expedite the review process of the smaller developments. The language regarding to minimal disturbance to the area has been stricken from section 4-1-3-1.

Under Proposed Section 4-1-3-3, minor plats served by private streets would be limited to one interconnection, and that interconnection would only be permitted to another minor plat. Minor plats served by public streets would not be subject to the interconnection limitation. For the third or more consecutive minor plat on either adjacent parcel of land or within the same parcel of land, additional standards must be reviewed. The Executive Committee must evaluate such minor plat applications “in combination with all of the other previously approved minor plats in the immediate surrounding area” regarding: (1) traffic-related impacts; (2) impacts on the storm drainage system; (3) potential public health risks of the private septic systems; and (4) potential adverse impacts of private wells on other private wells. [Proposed Section 4-1-3-6(a)(1)(A)-(D)]

Under Proposed Section 4-1-3-3(e), minor plats would be required to be served by public sewer systems or individual septic systems. Similarly, under Proposed Section 4-1-3-3(f), minor plats would be required to be served by public water systems or individual private wells. Proposed Section 4-1-3-5(f) states that individual septic systems and individual wells must be located “entirely on the lot that is being served by the system[/well].” [Proposed Sections 4-1-3-3(e),(f); 4-1-3-5(f)]

ASSOCIATION RECOMMENDATIONS
The Minor Plat Workgroup made significant progress, as several of the proposed changes clarified the Ordinance. The position of the Association is that several items still need further attention.

The mission of UPSTAR, in part, is to promote and protect the individual’s right to own, transfer, and use real property. Therefore, we are uneasy with any legislation that limits growth and/or impacts the right to use private property. Our concerns with the proposed changes to Subdivision Control Ordinance (Minor Plat) include:

  1. We recommend that language be added to the proposed ordinance that would allow a landowner to apply for a waiver permitting them to have an additional sell off from the root parcel.
  2. The language should be revised to clearly define what the County means by “consecutive minor plats” and should provide some examples in the ordinance.
  3. Requiring the third or more “consecutive minor plat” on the same or adjacent parcels of land to undergo a more onerous review process is unfair to the affected landowner who is the third to apply for a minor plat and could cause a race among adjacent property owners to file minor plat applications.
  4. The Proposed Amendments may need to be revised to closely relate the proposed Section 4-1-3-6(a)(1) additional standards to situations in which owners of multiple parcels or large individual parcels are taking advantage of the Minor Plat Ordinance to evade full subdivision review. In doing so, the County should ensure that owners who have proposed only a single minor plat on a single parcel are not subjected to the additional standards simply because two or more of their neighbors previously sought minor plat review.
  5. The proposed requirement that individual septic systems and wells must be located entirely on the lot that is being served would prevent the use of shared septic systems and wells, even in cases where such shared systems might be preferable from an engineering or environmental standpoint.
  6. We are not certain of the rationale behind prohibiting the use of shared septic and private water systems in minor plat subdivisions. We urge the County to consider eliminating that prohibition.
  7. We encourage the Plan Commission to limit this ordinance to the A-1 Zoning District to protect the environmentally sensitive areas in the A-3 Zoning District.
Realtors