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Mind the Shot Clock

Shot clock

As we come out of an epic college basketball season, shot clocks may still be on the mind.  Maybe you are new to municipal planning or maybe you just want a refresher, but either way we are going to chat a bit about the platting process and critical timing elements of that process.

What is platting?

Platting is the process a landowner or developer uses to create a final map of a piece of land to show lot lines, roadways, easements, and other helpful information.  The platting process is how municipalities ensure the health and safety of its citizens by providing an orderly and safe development process.  The rules for platting and subdivision development are governed by Chapter 212 of the Texas Local Government Code.

When is a plat or development plan considered “filed”?

A plat or development plan is considered to be “filed” only after it is “complete” and submitted to the municipal authority responsible for approving plats.  A complete plat or development plan is one that contains all documentation required by a city and contained in a written published list.  Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 212.0081(b).  It should be noted that the mere submission of an incomplete plat application or development plan does not meet this standard.  Cities should be careful to quickly review plat applications and development plans for completeness, so that complete plans are considered filed on the day they are submitted.

When must a plat or development plan be approved by a municipality?

If a plat application or development plan complies with the general plan of the city and all platting and subdivision regulations, the plat or development plan must be approved.  Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code §§ 212.005 and 212.047. In other words, approval becomes a ministerial duty, regardless of public opinion or pressures to the contrary.

What is the “shot clock”

The municipality has 30 days after the plat or plan is filed to either approve it, approve it with conditions, or disapprove the plat with an explanation.  Tex. Lov. Gov’t Code § 212.009(a).  This time frame is sometimes referred to as the “shot clock.”  It is an important time frame, because if a city fails to disapprove a plat or plan within the 30-day statutory deadline, the plat or plan is deemed approved.

Additionally, an applicant must provide a written response to each reason for conditional approval or disapproval, and the city must either approve or disapprove the submission within 15 days. Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 212.0093. If the city fails to do so, the plat or plan will be considered approved.

Can the shot clock be extended?

An applicant may request, in writing, one or more extensions of the 30-day shot clock not to exceed an additional 30 days.  Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 212.009(b-2).

In summary, platting is a complex process with tight timelines for cities and developers alike.  When in doubt, consult with qualified local legal counsel.

Please do not rely on this article as legal advice. We can tell you what the law is, but until we know the facts of your given situation, we cannot provide legal guidance. This website is for informational purposes and not for the purposes of providing legal advice. 

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