A site or plot plan is a scale drawing of a property that shows its size and configuration including the size and location of man-made features such as buildings, driveways, and walkways on the property. Plot plans show both what currently exists and what improvements are proposed (Figure 6.4). The main function of a basic site or plot plan is to determine the placement of the structure as it sits in reference to the boundaries of the construction site. Site plans clearly establish the building's dimensions, usually by the
foundation's size and the distances to the respective property lines. Setback dimensions are shown in feet and hundredths of a foot, as opposed to feet and inches on architectural drawings. Thus, an architectural dimension reading 40 feet, 6 inches would be 40.5 feet on a site plan.
A site plan includes not only the project but also the surrounding area. Site plans should outline location of utility services, setback requirements, and easements. Topographical data is also sometimes indicated, specifying the slope of the terrain. The grades at fixed points are shown throughout the area to show the land slope before construction is started and the finished grade after construction is completed.
Site plans are often required to accompany most applications in conjunction with a site-plan review submitted to the city or county in order to change how a particular property is used. For example, they are required for:
• Preapplication review of conceptual elements of multifamily, commercial, and industrial development
• Conditional-use permits
• Variances to zoning requirements
• Construction of new structures requiring a building permit
• A change of zone or a special zoning exception
A site plan should typically include:
• Legal description of the property based on a survey.
• Drawing scale: The site plan should be drawn to the most appropriate scale, for example, 1 inch = 10 feet,1 inch = 20 feet, or 1/4 inch = 1 foot.
• An arrow indicating north, usually towards the top right-hand corner of the sheet.
• Property-line bearings and directions: For most additions, property lines need to be physically located. In many cases, a certificate of survey, signed by a licensed surveyor, is required.
• The distance between buildings and between buildings and property lines.
• The dimensions of the existing buildings.
• Location of adjacent streets and any easements.
• A clear indication of any proposed addition or alteration.
• Other information that is relevant to the project. Plat Map
A plat is a map drawn to scale (usually supplied by a land surveyor or civil engineer) of part of a city or township showing some specific area, such as a subdivision made up of several individual lots. A plat will often consist of many sites or plots. A plat delineates the divisions of a piece of land (property-line bearings, dimensions, streets, and existing easements) and represents the first of several stages in a site's development (Figure 6.5). City, town, or village plats chart subdivisions into blocks with streets and alleys. For additional clarification the blocks are split into individual lots, usually for the purpose of selling the described lots, usually termed subdivisions. In order for plats to become legally binding, they must be filed in local jurisdictions, such as a public-works department, urban-planning commission, or zoning board, which must typically review and approve them. Legal descriptions become part of the public record and can be reviewed at any time.
There are three basic types of legal descriptions:
1. Metes and bounds: This is a system that identifies a property by describing the shape and boundary dimensions of a unit of land using bearing angles and distances starting from a defined point of origin. The point of origin may be referenced to the corner of some section or quarter-section described by the rectangular survey system. The metes are measured in feet, yards, rods, or surveyor's chains. These legal descriptions are frequently used to describe land that is not located in a recorded subdivision.
2. Rectangular survey system: This system provides for a unit of land approximately 24 miles square, bounded by a baseline running east and west and a meridian running north and south. This 24-mile square is further divided into 6-mile squares called townships. A range is an east and west row of townships between two meridian lines 6 miles apart. A township is divided into 36 numbered sections, each 1 mile square. Farm, ranch, and undeveloped land is often described by this method.
3. Lot and block: This system is commonly used in many urban communities to legally describe small units of land because of its simplicity and convenience. A map is created in which a larger unit of land is subdivided into smaller units for the purpose of sale. The map is recorded after each lot has been surveyed by a metes-and-bounds description. Deeds then need only refer to the lot, block, and map book designation in order to describe the property. It is not necessary to state the survey bearings and distances or the rectangular survey description in the deed.
Lot lines are laid out by polar coordinates: that is, each line is described by its length plus the angle relative to true north or south. This is accomplished by the use of compass direction in degrees, min utes, and seconds. The lot line may read N6o 49' 29" W. The compass is divided into four quadrants, NW, NE, SW, and SE.
There are many reasons to plat:
• To designate roads and other rights of way
• To make sure that all property has access to a public right of way
• To create or vacate easements
• To dedicate land for other public uses, such as parks or areas needed for flood protection
• To ensure compliance with zoning
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