Changing a land parcel shape/size (combining & splitting)

I know MMMV based on state/county but I’m wondering if there are a few general rules. And yes I will talk to TPTB before I buy the land.

I am looking at picking up 2 unimproved parcels totaling 3.4 acres of residential land. The shapes of the two are kind of wonky and it makes a lot more sense to combine the two parcels then re-divide them into four 0.75 ac M/L home building sites.
One - who would be responsible for the redrawing of the parcel lines? The county assessor?
Two - would I have to involve the city qua zoning authority at all?
Three - how easy is this to do? I know people do it all the time and in fact will even create non-buildable parcels to lower their tax. Is it pretty much automatic or would I have to worry about some County Supervisor flexing their muscles and making a stand denying this?
Four - What sort of fees are involved? I’m assuming county fees but is it $5 and a great high-five? Or hundreds/thousands per parcel? And I assume I need a surveyor to write up the new description or do I go into the Assessor’s office, show them what I want done and THEY write up the description and then eventually I get a surveyor to draw up the new property lines?
Five - what question am I not asking that I should?

I think a trip to the city building department is in order and they will advise.

The property I live on was created this way. The original lot was 10 acres and when a daughter married in 1925 the owner created a one square acre parcel for the couple. That’s 209 feet per side. 50 years later someone bought the whole ten acres including the one acre parcel. They added enough depth to the small parcel to make it 300 feet deep and divided the property into three new parcels each just under 70 feet wide. The land owner did all this and the resulting three properties are known as the Dudash Subdivision (the owner’s name).

However, the minimum lot size for our city is now 70 feet wide so this created three lots that technically cannot be developed. My house is in the center lot. When the lot next to me sold for development the new owner had to file for a variance to permit the house to be built on the lot which was a few inches too narrow. Notices were mailed to adjacent property owners and the case was heard at a public meeting of the zoning board of appeals.

I think today they would not allow these lots to be subdivided such that they are not buildable. I don’t know for sure but I think the person who originally did the split would present the description to the city who would file the lot sizes. But as each lot transferred, the new owner had to do a survey at their cost. A typical survey for a residential property today is about $500 here, depending on how much survey work has already been done and recorded nearby.

  1. You’d generally have a surveyor draw up the proposed plat, which is the drawing that will show what the new property boundaries will look like. That surveyor will know how to access historical plats and surveys of these properties in order to do their work. This generally requires work in the field at the site(s).

  2. These parcels are almost certainly subject to some kind of zoning, either at the city or county level. You can visit either your city or your county’s website and search for zoning maps. The zoning will determine the limits within which your proposed parcels would have to be; minimum/maximum size, minimum width and depth, frontage requirements, etc. There’s also the matter of ensuring each parcel has frontage access, or a way to get to and from a road. If not, you’re either looking at creating flag lots (lots with skinning strips extending to the street) or proving an access easement (a right to travel through one lot to get to another). You generally can’t have a genuinely ‘landlocked’ lot.

  3. This sort of thing happens often enough that most municipalities have set up a process for it. There could be a pre-application conference where the city/county will review your proposal and advise you on what requirements need to be met, followed by a formal or preliminary plat process (sometimes called a short plat or short subdivision).

  4. I did a quick check of my county’s short plat process, the total fees are at least several hundred, potentially a few thousand depending on the particular plot(s) in question.

  5. A surveyor or civil engineer (in land development) is probably familiar with this process and could help you with the process (for a fee).

I am not a surveyor, btw.

My dad did something like this years ago. He wanted to divide the ranch up between us 6 kids. At taht time if a parcel was divided into 5 or more sections then the property would have to be sub divided. That would require paved roads and sidewalks. We (dad and I) survayed the ranch and divided the whole ranch into 3 sections. Got the deeds recorded with the new county. Including the right aways through the front sections to the back sections. The a few years later We divided each section in half. My sister deeded over to me half of her section with right a-ways.

about 15 years ;later my brother sold his section and the new owner tore down the old ranch house and wanted to build a new home. But my right a-way was going through his living room. The new owner surveyed a new right away and filled out all the forms with the county. My wife and I my sister and her husband all sighned the new deeds with the new right a=way.

I’m a GIS professional and work for County Government. My Wife is a Appraiser and works for the Assessor. We are about to do a lot combine for tax purposes.

We are also going to have the properties re-surveyed. Understand that this is steep heavily treed land. It’s not going to be an easy job. That’s gonna be a few thousand.

But to just vacate a lot line, I don’t think it will all have to be resurveyed. Different counties and states will have different rules about this.

A surveyor would redraw the plat and file it with the clerk and recorder, their may be a small filing fee. The GIS department would make the needed change to the parcel lines on their system. No charge for that. The Assessor may have their own GIS team. Or the county may not use GIS at all. But that’s getting rare.

I think your first stop should be with a surveyor. They will have done a lot of this and know all the hoops that need to be jumped through.

You definitely need advice from a licensed professional.
Probably a surveyor., and/or civil engineer (=urban planner).

Make sure you find someone who has experience with the local government in your precise jurisdiction.
If you go just a 5 minute drive away, and you cross the country line, or step outside the municipal boundary (which you may not even be aware of), the rules and laws may be VERY different…

“cross the county line” ( not country)

The Code Enforcement Officer (or equivalent title) for your municipality should be able to tell you what you need to do.

And yes; you need to know what exact municipality you’re in – city or village or town, not just county. Rules in the USA can be different on the other side of the line. And yes, you need to know the rules of your municipality’s zoning; and they might need to review the specific case.

Around here, you’re not allowed to create non-buildable parcels; at least, not without going through the Zoning Board of Appeals, which isn’t supposed to allow them under most circumstances.

Where I am, the CEO would help you fill out an application, which would go to the Town Planning Board, on which I sit. This would come under the subdivision ordinances, as you’d be creating more lots than were there to start with. Once it was approved by the Planning Board, presuming that it was (the lots would all have to meet the requirements for legal building lots in the zoning district they’re in, and there’d be a public hearing required), you’d take the plans, signed by the planning board, to the county to be recorded. Fees to both the Town and County, but not expensive ones. You would need to have a survey done; costs of surveys vary with difficulty. You should talk to the CEO and here the Planning Board before getting the survey, as you want to get the survey drawn so that the lots are most likely to be approved.

But again, this varies with location, and often with exact location.

If you’re not sure whose rules you come under, make your best guess and go talk to them; if you’re over the line into somebody else’s territory, they should be able to tell you that.

It shouldn’t actually be that complicated a process for only four lots, at least if they would all be legal lots; and all the officials are used to helping people through it.

This is a key point - elementary, but every parcel AFAIK needs access to the public road. If they don’t have frontage, then they need a right-of-way that cannot be blocked. Much legal hilarity ensues when someone discovers they cannot block travel through their land or actually tries to do what they are not allowed to do.

I’ve measured it out an each parcel would have at least 19’ of frontage

Check with your municipality as to whether that’s sufficient.

I’m a member of a country living discussion board and I remember some conflict reported a few years back.

Person A had a travel easement, about 60’ wide as I recall, through Person B’s land.

Person B was supposed to keep the easement clear of trees and brush. They did not do so. Person A cleared the travel lane and Person B tried to sue Person A for damaging B’s trees. Thrown out of court.