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Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS)

Subdivision Regulation

Reference Number: MTAS-483
Reviewed Date: 09/27/2023

Subdivision plats must be submitted to the planning commission by the owner of the property, the holder of a written option or contract to purchase, or the attorney or authorized representative of any of these. T.C.A. § 13-3-402(a), T.C.A. § 13-4-302(a). "Subdivision" means:

  • dividing a tract or parcel into two or more lots, sites, or other divisions requiring new street or utility construction; or
  • any division of five or fewer acres for sale or building development.

The term “utility construction” does not include the extension of individual service pipes or lines to connect a single site to an existing utility main. T.C.A. § 13-3-401, T.C.A. § 13-4-301.

T.C.A. § 13-4-302 prohibits county registers from recording an amendment, modification, or correction to a subdivision plat without the approval of the planning commission. This statute also provides, however, that an easement or survey attached to an easement granted to the state, a county, a municipality, or metropolitan government, or any of their entities is not an amendment, modification, or correction to the plat.

Municipal and regional planning commissions may not require dedication of property or payment of money as a condition of approval of a subdivision, and must rather establish "an essential nexus" exists between the subdivision and public interest in the property or funds to be dedicated:

the planning commission shall not require an owner of private property to dedicate real property to the public, or pay money to a public entity in an amount that is determined on an individual and discretionary basis, unless there is an essential nexus between the dedication or payment and a legitimate local governmental interest and the dedication or payment is roughly proportional both in nature and extent to the impact of the proposed use or development of the property. An owner of private property required to make a dedication or pay money in violation of this subdivision (d)(1) may seek relief through a common law writ of certiorari in chancery court. T.C.A. § 13-4-303; T.C.A. § 13-3-403.

Except in Davidson, Hamilton, and Knox counties, curbs, gutters or sidewalks may not be required in a subdivision outside the limits of a municipality in an area governed by a regional planning commission unless public water and sewage systems are available within 18 months after a subdivider requests plan approval. T.C.A. § 13-7-301.

Plats submitted to a regional planning commission may be approved by the commission’s secretary if the subdivision has only two lots and meets all subdivision requirements, and provided further that no variance has been requested. T.C.A. § 13-3-402.

In an area governed by a regional planning commission, the law prohibits owners or their agents from selling or transferring land by reference to an unapproved subdivision or plat. The county attorney or other official designated by the county commission may file an injunction against such a transfer. T.C.A. § 13-3-410.

Gated Communities
The developer or owner of a proposed gated community must obtain a permit from the planning commission and board of zoning appeals, or the municipal governing body if neither of these exists, before installing or replacing a security gate or barrier. The municipal building or codes inspector must inspect the security gate or barrier. Gates and barriers must be equipped with a radio-operated receiver/controller capable of receiving signals from police, fire, utility and emergency medical services radio transceivers serving the facility. T.C.A. §§ 13-8-103 to 105.

These requirements apply in multi-family residential, commercial, and industrial gated communities and facilities with a gate or barrier to block entrance to the facility or community from a public street. Additionally, these requirements are applicable only where the driveway or access road leading to the gate is 24 feet or more in width. T.C.A. §§ 13-8-101 et seq.