Platting is the process through which land is divided into building lots (subdivision). In the platting process, the layout of streets and utilities is established; the streets identify blocks, and blocks are further subdivided to create lots for individual ownership. This process is also used to further divide or combine existing platted lots which may not involve extension of public improvements (resubdivision/replat/amending plat).
The manner in which land is subdivided, how streets are designed and how the lots are laid out have a lasting effect on the physical character of the City. Streets, water, sewage and drainage systems must be of a safe, effective design and construction. Streets must be adequately sized to accommodate the maneuvering of emergency vehicles, and the future property owner must be guaranteed a parcel with facilities suited to its intended use. The City of Hitchcock Subdivision Ordinance (City Code Chapter 155) regulates the subdivision of all property within the corporate limits of the City of Hitchcock and its extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ). Typically for a City the size of Hitchcock, the ETJ is a ½-mile wide area adjacent to and outside of the City of Hitchcock in which the City has authority to exercise its subdivision regulations. The City of Hitchcock has also extended its ETJ by petition of area property owners. If you are not sure whether your property is within the City Limits or the ETJ of Hitchcock, you can contact the Community Development Department. Staff can provide you with an up to date map of your area.
The owner of a tract of land located within the city limits or in the extraterritorial jurisdiction who divides the tract in two or more parts to lay out a subdivision of the tract, including an addition to a municipality, to lay out suburban, building, or other lots, or to lay out streets, alleys, squares, parks, or other parts of the tract intended to be dedicated to public use or for the use of purchasers or owners of lots fronting on or adjacent to the streets, alleys, squares, parks, or other parts must have a plat of the subdivision prepared. A division of a tract includes a division regardless of whether it is made by using a metes and bounds description in a deed of conveyance or in a contract for a deed, by using a contract of sale or other executory contract to convey, or by using any other method.
A division of land, according to the Texas Local Government Code, does not include a division of land into parts greater than five acres, where each part has access and no public improvement is being dedicated. Therefore, in that specific circumstance, a plat would not be required.
It is important to note that if the development project is required to plat in accordance with the above described regulations, no building permits can be issued, and no utility connections can be made until the plat is approved by the City and filed with the County Clerk.
Plat approval is divided into two distinct phases: preliminary plat, and final plat. Preliminary plats provide a detailed layout of the subdivision with existing and proposed features. A preliminary plat is mutually beneficial to both the developer and the City in that it provides an opportunity for the developer to explore the feasibility of the project while allowing the City to provide initial direction on the availability of City services. Final plats are the legal instruments that create lots, block and streets. Final plats are filed with the Galveston County Clerk. Following the filing of a final plat, newly created lots in a subdivision may be sold individually.
A replat represents the resubdivision of a parcel (or parcels) of property that have already been subdivided and for which a final plat has been previously filed with the County Clerk.
The approval process for preliminary plats, final plats and replats consists of six major steps:
- Pre-development meeting with City staff. A pre-development meeting is required prior to application submittal. While complete plans will not be required until application submittal, if you have a particular development in mind, it would be beneficial for you to share your plans with staff to make sure that what you want to do on your property is possible when all applicable codes are applied. Staff will help you explore the feasibility of your request and identify possible alternatives as needed.
- Submission of plat, plans, engineering documents, and review fees (e.g., engineering reports, drainage study, infrastructure plans) with completed application form and applicable fee;
- Review by City staff and City Engineer, as applicable;
- Approval by either City staff (Minor and Amending Plats) or the Planning and Zoning Board and City Commission (Preliminary and Final Plats);
- Construction and acceptance of required infrastructure (if applicable); and
- Filing of the final plat with the Galveston County Clerk.
Please note that only a licensed professional land surveyor can prepare subdivision plat documents. A licensed professional engineer will be needed if the installation of public infrastructure is required.
The Community Development Department will be your primary contact throughout the platting process. The City Engineer will review submittals relating to public infrastructure, storm water management, and other applicable requirements.
Following Staff or City Commission approval of a final plat or replat, any outstanding fees (e.g., consultant review fees, filing fees, etc.) must be paid and the following documents must be submitted to the Community Development Department:
- A Mylar copy of the approved plat;
- A certified tax certificate from the Galveston County Tax Office showing no outstanding taxes being owed on subject acreage no more than 30 days prior to the filing of the plat.
- An executed copy of the utility and street construction contracts or a notarized statement certifying the final contracts (for infrastructure projects).
If no public infrastructure (roads, water, sewer, drainage facilities) is required to be installed in conjunction with the final plat or replat, staff will file the plat with the Galveston County Clerk once all the aforementioned items are received. In that circumstance, you may then proceed to the building permit process.
Please note that final plats or replats requiring installation of public infrastructure are not filed with the County Clerk until the infrastructure is actually constructed and accepted, even when financially guaranteed. Please contact the Community Development Department at (409) 316-7234 if you have any questions regarding the platting process.
Water Rights Dedication
Prior to a final plat being approved, the subdivider must provide to the City of Hitchcock ample water supply for the subdivision. If water rights are unavailable for the subdivided property, subdivider shall pay an equivalent fee to be spent in accordance with the City’s water acquisition policy. Ample water supply or the equivalent payment shall be determined by the City of Hitchcock. Funding provided to the City for the purchase of water rights shall be determined by the City of Hitchcock using the prevailing water rate at the time of the final plat.
Prior to consideration of a final plat by the planning and zoning commission, the subdivider must file with City Staff either an irrevocable letter of credit, a cash deposit, a savings assignment, or a performance bond, in an amount equal to the estimated cost of the utility and street improvements to be made in the subdivision by the subdivider, including the cost of erosion control during construction. This required bond or financial guarantee is required to ensure the performance, installation and completion of the infrastructure improvements for the development project.
As soon as possible after approval of the final plat, but prior to the start of construction, the subdivider must provide the City Staff an executed copy of the utility and street construction contracts or a notarized statement certifying the final contracts so that the city may substantiate the estimated cost of improvements. The performance bond/deposit shall be adjusted to reflect the actual construction costs.
The performance bond/deposit must bear an expiration date of at least one year and shall be retained by the city until all improvements have been completed and accepted by the city.
If all improvements have not been completed and accepted by the city 30 calendar days prior to the expiration of the performance bond/deposit, the City Administrator shall present the performance bond/deposit for payment.
The City of Hitchcock delegates responsibility to the City Administrator to approve:
- Amending plats described by Texas Local Government Code § 212.016;
- Minor plats involving four or fewer lots fronting on an existing street and not requiring the creation of any new street or the extension of municipal facilities; or
- A replat under Texas Local Government Code § 212.0145 that does not require the creation of any new street or the extension of municipal facilities.
The submittal requirements for a Minor Plat follow the requirements for a Final Plat and must comply with City Code Chapter 155. The only difference for a Minor Plat is an expedited review process. The City Administrator may, for any reason, choose to present the plat for approval to the Planning and Zoning Board and City Commission through the normal platting process. No application for approval of a plat shall be considered completed and filed for review until all the items required by State law and the City have been received and the application is certified as complete by the City.