Buchanan County, VA
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Adopted 9-3-1996; amended in its entirety 10-5-2009]
This article is intended to guide and facilitate the orderly and beneficial growth of Buchanan County and to promote the public health, safety, convenience, comfort, prosperity and general welfare of the County. Subdivided land sooner or later becomes a public responsibility in that roads and streets must be maintained. This article assists the community in meeting these responsibilities.
This article is known and is to be cited as the "Subdivision Ordinance of Buchanan County, Virginia."
A. 
This article is adopted pursuant to the provisions and under the authority of Title 15.2, Chapter 22, Article 6, of the 1950 Code of Virginia, as amended.
B. 
Platting required from and after the first day of adoption of this article. Any owner or developer of any tract of land situated in Buchanan County, Virginia, or as much of it as comes under the jurisdiction of the Board of Supervisors of Buchanan County, shall cause a plat of such subdivision, with reference to known or permanent monuments, to be made and recorded in the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Buchanan County, Virginia. No such plat of a subdivision shall be recorded unless and until it shall have been submitted, approved and certified in accordance with regulations set forth in this article. The Buchanan County Planning Commission (Commission) shall act as the agent for the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors (Board) in all subdivision approval procedures. No such subdivision or plat may be approved or accepted unless first approved by the Commission and recommended to the Board. Any affected applicant may appeal a decision by the Commission directly to the Board by notifying the County Administrator by certified mail, return receipt requested, of such appeal, including the grounds thereof and any documents necessary to review such appeal within 30 days of the Commission's decision to approve or not to approve a subdivision plan and/or to accept or not accept a subdivision plat. The Board's decision on appeal shall be final, subject to any statutory right for an appeal to the Circuit Court.
C. 
Incorporated by reference and made parts of this article are the Virginia Department of Transportation's Secondary Street Acceptance Requirements and the VDOT Subdivision Street Design Guides.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated. Reference is made to the VDOT Secondary Street Acceptance Requirements and Subdivision Street Design Guide (effective July 1, 2009) for definitions of street and road categories.
A. 
Any tract, lot or parcel of land or portion thereof designated to be subdivided into four or more parcels of five acres or less for the purpose of transfer of ownership or for building development, including all changes in street or lot lines and the creation of any new street or easement. The following shall not be considered a subdivision:
(1) 
The sale or exchange of adjacent property between adjoining lot owners, where such sale or exchange does not create additional building sites.
(2) 
A division of land for agricultural, mining or timbering purposes.
(3) 
The voluntary or involuntary partition of undivided interests in land among co-owners; however, if any new easements or streets are created by such divisions, it shall be subject to review by the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent.
(4) 
The partition of lands by a recorded will or the division of land for cemetery plots.
(5) 
A division of land for a building site for members of the immediate family owning such land, in accordance with § 15.2-2244, Code of Virginia.
B. 
Further division of any lot, tract or parcel of an approved subdivision, whether or not by the original developer, shall also be considered to be a subdivision.
A. 
No lot shall be sold in any such subdivision before the final plat shall have been recorded.
B. 
Draw and certify. Every such plat shall be prepared by a licensed land surveyor or professional engineer, who shall endorse upon each plat a certificate signed by him, setting forth the source of the title of the land subdivided and the place of record of the last instrument in the chain of title. When the plat is of land acquired from more than one source of title, the outlines of the several tracts shall be indicated upon such plats, within an inset block or by means of dotted boundary line upon the plat.
C. 
Owner's statement. Every such plat or the deed of dedication to which the plat is attached shall contain, in addition to the professional engineer's or land surveyor's certificate, a statement as follows: "The platting or dedication of the following described land (here insert a correct description of the land subdivided) is with the free consent and in accordance with the desire of the undersigned owners, proprietors and trustees, if any." The statement shall be signed by such persons and duly acknowledged before some officer authorized to take acknowledgments of deeds. When thus executed and acknowledged, the plat, subject to the provisions herein, shall be filed and recorded in the office of the clerk of the court where deeds are admitted to record for the lands contained in the plat and indexed in the general index to deeds under the names of the owners of lands signing such statement and under the name of the subdivision. Owners shall notify the appropriate Commissioner of Revenue of improvements to real property situated in platted subdivisions. Each plat must contain a certification from an appropriate licensed professional engineer that certifies the following:
(1) 
The plat meets the standards for plats as provided in Virginia Code § 42.1-82 of the Virginia Public Records Act (Virginia Code § 42.1-76 et seq.); and
(2) 
That all VDOT secondary street acceptance requirements have been met and satisfied; and
(3) 
That all the requirements of the Subdivision Ordinance of Buchanan County have been met and satisfied.
D. 
No one exempt. No person shall subdivide any tract of land that is located within Buchanan County, as defined in Article 6 of Chapter 22 of Title 15.2 of Code of Virginia, except in conformity with the provisions of this Article II.
E. 
Private contracts. This article bears no relation to any private covenant, easement, agreement or restriction, nor is the responsibility of enforcing such private easement, covenant, agreement or restriction implied herein to any public official. When this article calls for more restrictive standards than are required by private contract, the provisions of this article shall control.
F. 
Necessary changes. No change, erasure or revision shall be made on any preliminary plat or final plat nor any accompanying sheets after approval of the agent has been endorsed, in writing, on the plat or sheets, unless authorization for such changes has been granted, in writing, by the agent.
G. 
Streets and alleys. All streets and alleys shall be installed by the subdivider at his own proper costs. All streets and alleys shall be designed and constructed in accordance with the minimum requirements and specifications and standards which have been established by the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation or which may hereafter be established by the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation, including but not limited to the VDOT Secondary Street Acceptance Requirements effective July 1, 2009.
H. 
Minimum width shall conform to the requirements as established by the Virginia Department of Transportation, in the Secondary Street Acceptance Requirements.
I. 
Culs-de-sac and turnarounds shall conform to the VDOT Secondary Street Acceptance Requirements.
J. 
Private streets and reserve strips. There shall be no private streets platted in any subdivision. All subdivided property shall be served from a publicly dedicated street. There shall be no reserve strips controlling access to streets.
K. 
Monuments. As required by this article, all monuments must be installed by the subdivider and shall meet the minimum specifications. Upon completion of the subdivision's streets, sewers and other improvements, the subdivider shall make certain that all monuments required by the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent are clearly visible for inspection and use. Such monuments shall be inspected and approved by the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent before any improvements are accepted by the governing body.
L. 
Location of concrete. Reinforced-concrete monuments, four inches in diameter or square, three feet long, with a flat top, shall be set at all street corners, at all points where the street line intersects the exterior boundaries of the subdivision and at right-angle points and points of curve in each street. The top of the monument shall be set flush with the finished grade of lot line.
M. 
Location of iron rods. All other corners shall be marked with iron rods not less than 3/4 inch in diameter and 24 inches long and shall be driven so as to be flush with the finished grade of the lot line. When rock is encountered, a hole shall be drilled one inch deep in the rock, into which shall be cemented a steel rod 1/2 inch in diameter, the top of which shall be flush with the finished grade of the lot line.
N. 
Lot size.
(1) 
Lot size, public water and sewer. Residential lots served by both public water and public sewer systems shall be 100 feet or more in width and 10,000 square feet or more in area. Additional improvements required in subdivisions containing lots of this size shall be in accordance with the minimum requirements, specifications and standards which have been established by the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation, the Virginia Department of Health and any other state or local body having authority over such installation.
(2) 
Lot size, public water or sewer. Residential lots served by only one public water or public sewer system shall be one 100 feet or more in width and 15,000 square feet or more in area. Additional improvements required in subdivisions containing lots of this size shall be in accordance with the minimum requirements, specifications and standards which have been established by the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation, the Virginia Department of Health and any other state or local body having authority over such installation.
(3) 
Lot size, neither public water nor sewer. Residential lots served by neither public water nor public sewer systems shall be 100 feet or more in width and 20,000 square feet or more in area. Any additional improvements required in subdivisions containing lots of this size shall be in accordance with the minimum requirements, specifications and standards under this article, which bond shall be payable to and held by the governing body of this County.
O. 
Bond. Before any subdivision plat will be finally approved by the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent, the subdivider shall furnish a bond in an amount determined by the Board or its designated agent to secure the required improvements in a workmanlike manner and in accordance with specifications and requirements under this article, which bond shall be payable to and held by the governing body of this County. Furthermore, pursuant to Virginia Code § 15.2-2241(5), the owner or developer shall make the appropriate certifications or post the appropriate amounts by certified checks, cash escrow or personal corporate or property bond with surety in regard to the construction or proposed construction of any improvements dedicated for public use and to be maintained by the County. Additionally, if the roads within a proposed subdivision are not accepted into the secondary highway system of the commonwealth, the Board of Supervisors may require the subdivider or developer to post maintenance and indemnifying bonds with surety in amounts as permitted by § 15.2-2241(5) of the Virginia Code, as amended.
P. 
Plans and specifications. Three blue- or black-line prints of the plans and specifications for all required physical improvements to be installed shall be prepared by a surveyor or engineer and shall be submitted to the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent for comments from the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation. If disapproved, one copy, bearing certification of such disapproval, shall be returned to the subdivider, with the reason for disapproval in writing. In the event that no action is taken in 60 days, such subdivision shall be deemed approved.
Q. 
Lots. In addition to the area and width requirement already specified, lots shall be arranged in order that the following considerations are satisfied:
(1) 
Shape. The lot arrangement, design and shape shall be such that all lots will provide satisfactory and desirable sites for buildings and be properly related to topography and conform to requirements of this article. Lots shall not contain peculiarly shaped elongations solely to provide necessary square footage of area which would be unusable for normal purposes.
(2) 
Location. Each lot shall abut on a street dedicated by the subdivision plat or on an existing publicly maintained street.
(3) 
Corner lots. Corner lots shall have extra width sufficient for maintenance of any required building lines on both streets as determined by the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent.
(4) 
Side lines. Side lines of lots shall be approximately at right angles or radial to the street line.
(5) 
Remnants. All remnants of lots below minimum size left over after subdividing a tract must be added to adjacent lots or otherwise disposed of, rather than being allowed to remain as unusable parcels.
(6) 
Business or industrial. Lots intended for business or industrial use shall be designed specifically for such purposes with adequate space set aside for off-street parking and delivery services and facilities.
A. 
Preliminary sketch. The subdivider may, if he so chooses, submit to the agent a preliminary sketch of the proposed subdivision prior to his preparing engineered preliminary and final plats. The purpose of such preliminary sketch is to permit the agent to advise the subdivider whether his plans in general are in accordance with the requirements of this article. The Board of Supervisors or its designated agent, upon submission of any preliminary sketch, shall study it and advise the subdivider wherein it appears that changes would be necessary. The agent shall mark the preliminary sketch indicating necessary changes, and any such marked sketch shall be returned to the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent with the preliminary plat. The preliminary sketch shall be as follows:
(1) 
Drawing and scaling. It shall be drawn on white paper or on print of a topographic map of the property. The scale shall be appropriate to the size of the paper. It shall show the name, location and dimensions of all streets entering the property, adjacent to the property or terminating at the boundary of the property to be subdivided and shall include their approximate dimensions.
(2) 
Part of tract. Whenever part of a tract is proposed for platting and it is intended to subdivide additional parts in the future, a sketch plan for the entire tract shall be submitted with the preliminary plat. This sketch is merely for informational purposes and is not binding on the subdivider or the governing body.
B. 
Preliminary plat. The subdivider shall present to the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent three prints of a preliminary layout at a scale that shall be appropriate to the size of the paper as a preliminary plat. The preliminary plat shall include the following information:
(1) 
The name of the subdivision, subdivider, surveyor or engineer and the date of the drawing, number of sheets, North point and scale.
(2) 
The location of the proposed subdivision by an inset map, at a scale of not less than two inches equal one mile, showing adjoining roads and their names and numbers, towns, subdivisions and other landmarks.
(3) 
The boundary survey or existing survey of record, provided that such survey shows a closure with an accuracy of not less than one in 20,000, total acreage, acreage of the subdivided area, the number and approximate area and frontage of all building sites, existing buildings within the boundaries of the tract, the names of owners and their property lines within the tract and the names of owners and their property lines adjoining such boundaries.
(4) 
All existing, platted and proposed streets and their names, numbers and widths; existing utility or other easements; public areas and parking spaces; culverts, drains and watercourses and their names; and other pertinent data.
(5) 
The complete drainage layout, including all pipe sizes, types of drainage easements and means of transporting the drainage to a well-defined open stream which is considered natural drainage.
(6) 
A cross-section showing the proposed street construction, depth and type of base, type of surface, etc.
(7) 
A profile or contour map showing the proposed grades for the streets and drainage facilities, including elevations of existing and proposed ground surface at all street intersections and at points of major grade change along the center line of streets, together with proposed grade lines connecting therewith.
(8) 
A location map tying the subdivision into the present publicly maintained road system, either by aerial photographs or topographical maps.
(9) 
Proposed connections with existing sanitary sewers and existing water supply.
(10) 
All parcels of land to be dedicated for public use and the conditions of such dedication.
(11) 
All plats shall be accompanied by an approved soil erosion and sediment control plan.
C. 
Procedure. The agent or his appointed representative shall discuss the preliminary plat with the subdivider in order to determine whether or not the preliminary plat generally conforms to the requirements of this Article II. The agent or his appointed representative, after receiving comments from the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation, shall then advise the subdivider in writing, within 60 days, which may be by formal letter and/or by legible markings on the copy of the preliminary plat, concerning any additional data that may be required, the character and extent of public improvements and the amount of the performance bond which will be required as a prerequisite to approval of the final subdivision plat.
D. 
No guaranty. Approval by the agent of the preliminary plat does not constitute a guaranty of approval of the final plat.
E. 
Final plat. The subdivision plat submitted for final approval by the governing body and subsequent recording shall be clearly and legibly drawn in ink upon tracing media, at a scale that shall be appropriate to the size of the paper on sheets having a size of no more than 18 inches by 24 inches. In addition to the requirements of the preliminary plat, the final plat shall include the following:
(1) 
A blank space of three inches by five inches, reserved for the use of the approving authority.
(2) 
Certificates signed by the surveyor or engineer, setting forth the source of title of the owners of the land subdivided and the place or record of the last instrument in the chain of title.
(3) 
A statement to the effect that the subdivision, as it appears on this plat, is with the free consent and in accordance with the desires of the owners, proprietors and trustees, if any, which shall be duly acknowledged before some officer authorized to take acknowledgments of deeds.
(4) 
When the subdivision consists of land acquired from more than one source of title, the outlines of the various tracts, indicated by dash lines, and identifications of the respective tracts shall be placed on the plat.
(5) 
The accurate location and dimensions by bearings and distances, with all curve data, on all lots and street lines, center lines of streets and boundaries of all proposed or existing easements, parks, school sites or other public areas; the number and area of all building sites; all existing public and private streets and their names, numbers and widths; existing utilities and those to be provided, such as sanitary sewers, storm drains, water mains, manholes and underground conduits, including their size and type; watercourses and their names; and the names of owners and their property lines, both within the boundary of the subdivision and adjoining said boundaries. The developer or subdivider shall include in the plat information in regards to compliance with common or shared easements as described in § 15.2-2241(6) of the Code of Virginia.
(6) 
Distance and bearings balanced and close with an accuracy of not less than one in 20,000.
(7) 
The data of all curves along the street frontage, shown in detail at the curve or in a curve data table containing the following: delta, radius, arc distance, chord distance and chord bearings.
F. 
Conditions. The plat shall not be approved until the subdivider has complied with the general requirements and minimum standards of design in accordance with this article and has made satisfactory arrangements for performance bond, cash, cash bond or other security requirements as set forth in § 15.2-2241(5) of the 1950 Code of Virginia, as amended, to cover the cost of necessary improvements to the satisfaction of the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent. Approval of the final plat shall be written on the face of the plat by the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent. The subdivider shall record the plat within six months after final approval; otherwise, the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent shall mark the plat "void" and return the same to the subdivider; however, in the case of construction of facilities/improvements dedicated for public use and where the developer has furnished the security as permitted in § 15.2-2241(8) of the Code of Virginia, then the developer shall have one year from approval of the plat or greater time as set forth in the surety agreement approved by the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors to record said plat.
A subdivider, when advertising a subdivided tract of land for sale, shall be specific as to whether officially approved public water and sewage facilities are provided.
A. 
Any subdivision meeting all the qualifications of this section shall be considered to be a private road subdivision and shall be exempt from all requirements of this article except those contained herein or incorporated herein by reference:
(1) 
The right-of-way shall be the number of feet in width or the minimum width now or in the future required by the Virginia Department of Transportation and Highways, whichever is less, and shall be used solely for ingress and egress and kept free of permanent obstructions. The Planning Commission and/or the Board of Supervisors may grant a variance in regard to the road width requirements.
(2) 
Said private roads shall adjoin a publicly maintained road.
(3) 
A minimum of six inches of topsoil shall be removed from the entire roadbed.
(4) 
The roadbed shall consist of 18 feet of aggregate base stone, Type I Number 21B (crusher run), having a depth of six inches. The shoulder width shall be 30 inches for a fill section and two feet for a cut section. The ditch shall have a width of four feet and a depth of 14 inches from the shoulder to the bottom. All roads shall be properly crowned. Fill slopes consisting of soil shall be no greater than 1.5 H to 1V.
(5) 
Corrugated metal or concrete culvert shall be placed at intervals to properly drain said roadbed. These culverts shall be of the required size as determined by a licensed surveyor or engineer.
(6) 
Permanent drainage easements shall be shown on the plat in order to provide maintenance to said culverts. These easements shall be 50 feet in length extending from the right-of-way line and five feet each side of the extended culvert alignment.
(7) 
The minimum center-line radii for said road shall be 100 feet.
(8) 
The maximum allowable percent of grade shall be 16%.
(9) 
If a cul-de-sac is required at the terminus of said road, the required radius shall be 50 feet for the right-of-way line and 25 feet for the road center line.
(10) 
The Planning Commission may grant a variance in regard to the minimum design standards for good cause shown.
B. 
General requirements.
(1) 
For private road subdivisions with lots that front on an existing or proposed road that is privately maintained, plats recorded for such lots shall contain the following statement: "The road serving this lot is private and its maintenance, including snow removal, is not a public responsibility. It shall not be eligible for acceptance into the state secondary system for maintenance until such time as it is constructed and otherwise complies with all requirements of the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation for the addition of subdivision streets current at the time of such request. Any costs required to cause this street to become eligible for addition to the state system shall be provided from funds other than those administered by the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation, the County, the state or any other governmental entity."
(2) 
An instrument, in proper form, shall be recorded in the land records so as to be reflected in the chain of title of each lot, setting forth that the construction, repair and maintenance of the roadway connecting such lot to the public road is not the responsibility of the County or the state or any other governmental entity and establishing a legally binding responsibility for the parties who are responsible for any construction, repair or maintenance, including snow removal, and all pertinent details. The agreement shall be between the owner of the lot, the contract purchaser and other parties if pertinent to the purpose of the agreement.
(3) 
All private road subdivision plats shall be presented to the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent for approval prior to the sale of any lot therein.
C. 
Before the development of any private road, the developer shall file with the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent three copies showing a plan and profile of the proposed roadway, prepared by a surveyor or engineer duly certified to perform such services. The plan shall show drainage facilities, curvature and profile of the roadway, right-of-way, pertinent topographical features, typical section, sketch of boundary lines and lots or tracts fronting on said private road.
D. 
All tracts or lots shall abut on the center line of said private road, shall have a minimum width of 100 feet and shall contain a minimum of 20,000 square feet, exclusive of area within said street.
E. 
Upon completion of the work on said private road and upon acceptance of the same by the Board of Supervisors and its designated agent, the developer shall be furnished two copies of the final plat, on which he or she shall certify that all work is in accordance with this section. If certification is withheld, the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent shall provide to the developer a specific statement of the reasons for withholding the same.
F. 
The subdivider shall erect, within 25 feet of the point where the primary access road to the subdivision joins a state-maintained road, a permanent sign, clearly visible from the state-maintained road, containing the following statement in block letters no less than three inches high: "THE ROADS IN THIS SUBDIVISION WILL NOT BE PAVED OR MAINTAINED AT PUBLIC EXPENSE." Such sign shall be maintained by the subdivider in clearly visible condition for at least five years from the date the first lot is sold.
G. 
The declaration on the plat shall be read at the beginning of all auction sales and repeated at least two times, with the use of a remote speaker system. All advertisements shall include the statement "this is a private road subdivision."
H. 
It shall be the responsibility of the owner or proprietors to include the above declaration within the body of each deed of conveyance to initial grantees.
I. 
Any person violating the foregoing provisions of this section shall be subject to a fine of not more than $100 per month for each month in which such person does not comply with the provisions as set forth herein.
J. 
The Board of Supervisors or its designated agent shall collect from the developer a fee of $20 per 100 linear feet of road platted under this section.
Where the subdivider can show that a provision of these standards would cause unnecessary hardship if strictly adhered to and where, because of topographical or other conditions peculiar to the site, in the opinion of the agent, a departure may be made without destroying the intent of such provisions, the agent may authorize an exception. Any exception thus authorized is to be stated, in writing, in the report of the agent with the reasoning on which the departure was justified set forth. No such variance may be granted by this article which is opposed, in writing, by the County or Highway Engineer or hearing official.
Any person violating the foregoing provisions of this article shall, upon notification, in writing, by the Board of Supervisors or its designated agent, be subject to a fine of not more than $100 per month for each lot or parcel of land so subdivided or transferred or sold until such person shall have complied with the provisions as set forth in this article. The description of such lot or parcel by metes and bounds in the instrument of transfer or other document used in the process of selling or transferring shall not exempt the transaction from such penalties or from the remedies herein provided. Subdivider or developer may apply to the Planning Commission for the partial and/or complete release of bonds, escrows, letters of credit or other performance guarantees; the Planning Commission shall make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors as to whether such partial and/or complete releases should be granted.
A. 
Vacation of interests granted to the Board of Supervisors. Any interest in streets, alleys, easements for public rights of passage, easements for drainage and easements for a public utility granted to the Board of Supervisors as a condition of the approval of a site plan may be vacated according to the provision of § 15.2-2270 of the 1950 Code of Virginia, as amended, or any subsequent amendments thereto.
B. 
Vacation of plat before sale of lot therein. Where no lot has been sold, the recorded plat or part thereof may be vacated according to the provisions of § 15.2-2271 of the 1950 Code of Virginia, as amended, or any subsequent amendments thereto.
C. 
Vacation of plat after sale of lot. In cases where any lot has been sold, the plat or part thereof may be vacated according to the provisions of § 15.2-2272 of the 1950 Code of Virginia, as amended, or any subsequent amendments thereto.