What is a Site Plan?

Municipalities require site plans in order to ensure that both local and state codes are adhered to when it comes to making changes and additions to a specific property. The process is meant to minimize that surrounding properties are not negatively impacted by the proposed changes.

A site plan, sometimes called a plot plan, is meant to show proposed improvements to a property. A site plan typically shows what already exists on the property, in addition to presenting what is proposed to be built. This could include such things as a new building or building addition, associated parking lots, and utilities.

A site plan approval process is normally required by the local city, town, village, township, or county and will vary from one community to another. It is imperative that anyone who wishes to develop land research the site plan approval process for the local municipality. For instance, most municipalities require your attendance at a planning commission meeting, however, some require no meetings at all, while others require multiple committees to approve the plan.

Every site plan is different: different uses, different size land, different surface features, different types of utilities, etc… Also, different governing authorities will have differing requirements. For example, some municipal agencies require a professional land surveyor whereas others will accept existing municipal data, like county GIS data and aerial mapping. Sometimes it is required to show features from 20’-100’ past the property lines, and in most cases any existing driveways across the street. Most municipalities require that a licensed civil engineer prepare, stamp, and sign the site plan. Each municipality usually has a “site plan checklist” that provides the list of items they expect to be shown.

Besides the local municipality, there are often other jurisdictional agency approvals required.  For example, the driveway may need approval from the road commission or state Department of Transportation (DOT).  The same goes for utilities. A water well and/or septic system, may need approval from the local health department.  If the property is served by public sewer and water, there may be an “authority” or an adjacent municipality that provides sewer and water service to the local municipality.  It is important to ask these questions of the local municipal agency to know which approvals are needed from other agencies before or concurrent to the local municipality site plan approval process.

Once it is known which agencies need to approve the plan and the unique steps for each, investigate the submittal timing required. Most municipalities require the site plan to be submitted 30 days before any meetings so that the agency has time to review the details in advance.

The site plan process can be overwhelming to those that do not navigate it on a regular basis. VK Civil helps our clients with this process every day. We are licensed in Michigan and Indiana, and we would grateful for the opportunity to help you through the site plan review process. Contact Dan Lewis to start a conversation.