Published in the Times Reporter Newspaper
Real Estate Weekly Section April 21, 2007
Effective March 23, 2007, the Tuscarawas County Commissioners approved a proposed amendment to the Tuscarawas County Regional Planning Commission Subdivision Regulations. The amendment changes the definition of a Subdivision from “[t]he division of any parcel of land shown as a unit or as contiguous units on the last preceding tax roll, . . .” to “[t]he division of any parcel of land shown as a unit or as contiguous units on the last preceding tax roll from an original tract as that original tract exists on the effective date of these amended rules, . . .” The amendment also creates a definition for a Minor Subdivision which is defined as a “Division of a parcel of land that does not require a plat . . . [and] . . . shall be limited to no more than five (5) lots, (4 lots under 5 acres and a residual lot of any size) from an original tract as it existed on the effective date of these amended rules.”
Previously, subdivisions of land into 5 or less parcels which did not involve the opening, widening or extension of any street or road were not required to submit a plat map to the Regional Planning Commission. When determining the number of subdivisions created, the Regional Planning Commission focused on the last preceding tax roll. However, the tax roll changed from year-to-year allowing land developers to continuously make 5 subdivisions of the same land, without complying with the plat requirements or major subdivision rules. Now, when determining if 5 lots are being developed the focus is on an original tract existing as of March 23, 2007.
By modifying the definition, the Regional Planning Commission has closed a potential loophole for unregulated divisions of land. Jill Lengler, Director of the Regional Planning Commission, advised the modification comes, in part, as a response to recent changes in the Ohio Revised Code, which, in turn have been prompted by increased land development throughout Ohio. Lengler also advised that in recent years they have seen an increase in land development, and unfortunately, some of the development has been done in a haphazard manner, resulting in storm water drainage problems.
The amendment to the definition of a subdivision will grant the Regional Planning Commission the ability to further regulate the majority of land being developed in Tuscarawas County, ensuring divisions of land are done in an appropriate and responsible way.
Landowners looking to divide off land in parcels less than 5 acres should consider that after the creation of 5 lots, they may be required to submit a plat map and comply with more extensive land development regulations. As a result, one of the down sides to the amendments is that land owners may confront considerable expense when deciding to sell a small portion of their land. Additionally, purchasers and investors should carefully conduct due diligence when purchasing land at auction, or through a Realtor, to determine how many subdivisions of land have already occurred to the original tract. The purchaser or investor could be confronted with substantial expenses in the future if they desire to divide a portion of the land.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.