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What defines a subdivision?

A. The division of land into two or more lots, sites or parcels of area; B. Establishment or dedication of a road, highway, street or alley through a tract of land regardless of area; C. Resubdivision of land heretofore divided or platted into lots, sites or parcels; D. Any area of land also considered a subdivision of acreage in excess of ten acres. Owners of tracts of land in excess of ten acres shall be permitted to subdivide into tracts of not less than ten acres, unless the intention is to subdivide and develop a subdivision in accordance with this title.

What is the minimum lot size required for subdividing?

The minimum lot size depends on the zoning district the property is in. For Low Density Residential and Medium Density Residential zones, the minimum lot size is 4,000 square feet. Commercial and Industrial zones vary, see the appropriate codes.

If I want to sell a portion of my lot to my neighbor, do I still need a subdivision plat?

Yes. A recorded subdivision plat is required that goes through the Plat Amendment process. This plat looks like a regular subdivision plat. It will show the new square footages of your lot and your neighbor's lot. The plat has to be prepared by a registered land surveyor. The Planning Department Office can walk you through the steps.

After I've made the decision to subdivide, what's the first step I need to do?

It is suggested that you or your representative first meets with the City Planner to uncover any potential problems with the development of the planned subdivision. After you have met with the City Planner, you will need to contact a surveyor to have the plat and general topographic information prepared.

How much time do I have from the time I submit my preliminary plat until my final plat is due?

The approval of the preliminary plat shall only be effective for a period of six months unless an extension is granted by the City Planning Commission. If the final plat has not been submitted for approval within this period, a preliminary plat must again be submitted to the Commission for approval.

If I want to combine two lots, what process do I go through?

The combination of lots would fall under the category of a subdivision replat. After speaking with the City Planner, you would be required to contact a surveyor to have the replat prepared. Once prepared you would submit the application and plat copy and then go before the Planning Commission.

Who are the surveyors in Cordova?

Cordova has one surveying firm - L & J Surveying and Consulting, Inc. Their phone number is 424-3942. Anchorage is another good resource to locate surveyors.

This all sounds very complicated, where can I get quality help in subdividing my lot?

Your surveyor can be a source of invaluable assistance. The Planning Department Office will also take some of the mystery out of the process and will try to make it go as smoothly as possible.

Other than a surveyor, is there anyone else I am required to contact?

Yes. You will need to contact the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and submit the necessary information for their review if you do not have city water and sewer available. If the property is along a State Owned Road, you will need to contact Alaska Department of Transportation (ADOT) about a driveway permit. Permits may also be required by the Alaska Coastal Management Plan (ACMP) and Corps of Engineers.

What will my survey costs be? Survey costs vary from project to project so your surveyor needs to give you an idea of the costs.

How wide must easements be to serve back lots?

Access easements for driveways must be at least 20 feet wide. They may need to be wider on properties with steep terrain. The width of utility easements is variable. Access and utility easements are often combined in the same location.

How steep can the driveway be?

A maximum grade for driveways is 15%. Grades in excess of 15% shall only be allowed in exceptional circumstances. A surveyor is required to certify that the driveway is built to the grade approved during the subdivision process.

Do all the property taxes on my lot have to be current before the property is subdivided?

Yes. All the property taxes have to be paid up to date prior to the recording of the plat.

Who installs the utilities on the lots after the property is subdivided?

The developer who subdivides the lots or the new owners of the properties installs the utilities. In the case of a minor subdivision, it is really up to the applicant's preference. In major subdivisions, all the utilities have to be installed to the property line and accepted by the City before a lot is sold. In all cases, the utilities have to be constructed to City standards.

How is drainage handled in an area with as much rain as Cordova?

The subdivider is responsible for developing a drainage site that does not adversely affect the adjacent properties. The City may require a drainage plan be prepared that is approved by the Public Works Director.

When do I need to have my application submitted?

Complete applications and all supporting materials must be submitted twenty-one days prior to a scheduled Planning Commission meeting. These meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. If a meeting is to be held Tuesday August 10th the application and materials need to be submitted by five p.m. on Tuesday July 20th. Adhering to this time frame allows the City to review the applications, send out notifications, and run the required advertisements in a timely fashion.

What kind of supporting materials do I need to submit with my application?

To show proof of ownership you will need to submit a copy of the deed and provide a copy of the plat. Seven copies of the preliminary sketch plan must be submitted before submission of the final plat.

Is there a fee associated with the subdivision process?

Yes. The fee for a Preliminary Plat is $150 plus $20 per lot. The fee for Final Plats is ½ the cost of the preliminary. The fee for Plat Amendments (replats) is $75 plus $15 per lot. These are non-refundable fees.

How long does a subdivision or replat process take?

If there are no immediate concerns or issues the Planning Commission needs to research, most likely a minor subdivision will go before the Planning Commission once, for approval of the final plat. Plat modifications such as combining two lots; generally require one meeting. The major subdivision process is a bit more involved and may take longer. A preliminary plat, and final plat need to be approved by the Planning Commission and then forwarded on to City Council for final approval. After approval, the plat will need to be recorded. The surveyor submits a mylar copy to the Planning Department and then the Planning Department collects the necessary signatures for recording.

How long does it take to receive the recorded plat?

Finalized plats are sent to the Anchorage Recorder’s Office to be recorded, the time it takes to receive the recorded plat depends on how fast the state can get the plat recorded.

I've been thinking about this project for two years and I have a contractor ready to go. Why do I have to go through the Planning Commission process now?

All projects that fall outside of the normal zoning code standards must go through the Planning Commission for approval. Contractors for the most part will understand, as they are familiar with the procedures.

Do I have to speak at the Planning Commission and City Council? I'm uncomfortable with public speaking.

The week before the Planning Commission each board member receives a packet of information, which describes each request on the agenda in detail. Board members may or may not have questions for you. If they do, the questions are generally very simple.

How long does it take to find out if my request was approved or disapproved after the meeting of the planning commission?

You will be notified in writing within five days after the meeting of the planning commission at which such plat was considered. In case the plat is disapproved, the subdivider shall be notified of the reason for such action and what requirements will be necessary to meet the approval of the commission.

Does the Planning Office inspect my property before the meeting and, if so, should I make an appointment so I can be there?

The Planning Department Office does not formally "inspect" your property so there is no reason to make an appointment. Before the Planning Commission packets are prepared, the Planning Department staff visits each site to visually see the request as this aids in the full understanding of the proposed request. Pictures may be taken at this time and included in the packet.

Can someone else represent me at a meeting if I'm going to be out of town?

Certainly. Family members or friends that are familiar with the project often represent owners who are out of town.

Will I get a reminder before the meeting?

Yes. A copy of the agenda along with the staff report will be sent to you a week prior to the meeting. On the notice are the meeting date, time, and location. Notices will also appear on the scanner and radio one week prior to the meeting, as well as the day of the meeting. If this process still seems a little confusing, don't worry. The Planning Department Office will make every effort to help where needed and make things go as smoothly as possible.

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