About the Commission
The Planning Commission, a 26-member board appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council includes citizens, elected officials and the Director of Planning and Development. The Commission reviews and approves subdivision and development plats. The Commission also studies and makes recommendations to City Council on development issues in Houston.
Approval by Planning Commission is often the first step required in the development process. The Commission meets every other Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in City Hall annex chambers, 900 Bagby, unless otherwise posted. The agenda is posted three days in advance on the Department’s web site for platting, www.HoustonPlatTracker.org. Items on the agenda posted as consent are typically considered all in one grouping. Items considered separately include replats requiring a public hearing and variances.
Members of the public can sign up to speak on any agenda item at the meeting. Speakers are allowed two minutes and can only speak once per item (if the item is deferred, speakers must choose at which meeting to speak).
Current Commission Members
A plat provides for the subdivision of land that can be legally defined (i.e. Lot 29, block 19 of the Happy Trails subdivision). Subdivision plats are required to show how land will be subdivided. The plat must reflect adequate streets and right-of-way for the project. The plat is checked to assure it abides by all development rules as established by Chapter 42, the City’s land development ordinance. By law, the Commission is required to approve plats that meet the requirements of Chapter 42.
Undeveloped land must be platted before development occurs. If land is platted, it can be replatted to further subdivide the existing subdivision plat or change the use of the property (i.e. from single-family to multi-family). Typically, a replat will make changes to the layout of lots, reserves, building setback lines and easements.
Plats must be considered and either approved or disapproved within 30 days or state law mandates that the plat is automatically approved if no action is taken. Plats can be deferred twice but action must be taken within the 30 days. Residents who were notified of a public hearing or variance will not receive a second notice if the item is deferred at Planning Commission. The item will automatically come up at the next Planning Commission meeting.
The Commission’s authority on platting does not extend to land use and therefore cannot disapprove a plat because of the intended use of the property. Other issues applicable to land development such as adequate water, sewer and drainage are handled by other agencies and are not part of the Commission’s authority regarding plat approval.
A plat must be prepared by a licensed surveyor, land planner and/or engineer and a licensed surveyor or engineer must sign the plat. If the property is located within Fort Bend County, a licensed engineer must sign the plat in addition to a licensed surveyor.
Replat requiring a public hearing
A public hearing for a replat is required conditions existed within the original plat boundary. Public hearings are held before Planning Commission during the meeting. Residents within 5000 feet of the property replat and within the original subdivision boundary will be mailed letters of notification and a sign will be posted announcing the public hearing date. If there are no variances requested, Planning Commission must approve the replat if it meets all the rules according to Chapter 42 and does not violate state law. If the replat violates deed restrictions, the Planning Commission must disapprove the plat.
Planning Commission does have discretionary authority if a plat requires a variance or special exception. Residents in the city limits that are within 500 feet of the proposed development will be notified of variances and have a chance to offer input on how the variance will affect their neighborhood or property. A variance is a deviation from the strict compliance of the rules and regulations of Chapter 42. The applicant must document a reasonable hardship for the variance. This usually means that applying the rules of Chapter 42 would make the land difficult to develop without the variance or that the rules applied to the project are contrary to sound public policy.
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Last Updated: May 16, 2016