Printed on: December 29, 2012

More subdivisions go smaller in Fremont Co.

By Joyce Edlefsen
Rexburg Standard Journal

ST. ANTHONY -- What's become common in most U.S. counties also is catching on in Fremont County.

"If you look at any county's records (of subdivisions) the vast majority are smaller subdivisions," Fremont Planning and Building Administrator Tom Cluff said.  

The increase in small Fremont County subdivisions during the past few months is linked to the county's adoption in 2011 of the new development code, which includes provisions allowing short plats.

Short plats are subdivisions of two to six lots.

Before the code changes, such subdivisions were not allowed in Fremont County -- unless a property owner went through the same process as much larger subdivisions, which included public hearings.

Since the provisions changed, 16 short plats have been approved and three more are in the works.

So far, people seem to be getting what they want and understand the process, Cluff said, who has been county planning administrator for two months.

"Typically, they are for smaller plots of land," he said. "Someone may have 20 to 30 acres and they just want to divide it into four or five lots for their family members or to sell."

Creating short plats streamlines the administrative process, he said.

"Applicants don't need to commit the same time and effort as the true developers," Cluff said. "In the end, they still have to comply with the same requirements. They don't get a pass on doing a good development but (the process) is simpler and shorter."

The short-plat process differs from a parcel split. Parcels of land may be   divided into smaller parcels but not with the same building rights as divisions of lots.

Lots come with building rights; parcels do not, Cluff said.

Short plats or subdivision plats are the only way to get new building lots. Applicants for short plats apply for a permit, submitting the required information to the department.

The planning administrator reviews the application and related documents, asks for public comment and makes a decision. The plat must be recorded.

"We want to make it as user-friendly as possible but we don't circumvent the process," Cluff said.