Requirements in Subchapter C Counties

Subchapter C applies to counties eligible for funding under the Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP) but not within 50 miles of the border. These counties can change from year to year with changes in unemployment and per capita income. For new subdivisions with two or more lots of five acres or less intended for residential purposes, plats must include information about water and sewer service. An engineer must certify that the water and sewer facilities comply with the model rules. The subdivider must construct those facilities or financially guarantee their construction. The law forbids the sale of a lot that should have but has not been platted under Subchapter C. It also forbids utility connections to such unplatted lots. The requirements for residential subdivisions in Subchapter C apply in addition to the county's general subdivision platting requirements (for example, for roads and drainage) in Subchapter A of Chapter 232.

Subchapter C Counties

Subchapter C was added in 1997 to Chapter 232, Texas Local Government Code, and consists of sections 232.071 through 232.080. Subchapter C applies to counties eligible for assistance and have applied for assistance under the Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP) but not subject to Subchapter B (that is, not located within 50 miles of the Texas-Mexico Border).

Current List of Subchapter C Counties

Current List of Subchapter C Counties as determined by TWDB (as of March, 2008)

Platting Requirements in Subchapter C Counties

Subchapter C applies when a landowner divides land outside city limits into two or more lots of five acres or less intended for residential purposes. The key requirement is that a landowner must obtain county approval of a subdivision plat of the land and, in the process, provide proper water and sewer service facilities for the subdivision lots. Plats must include information about water and sewer service, and an engineer must certify that the water and sewer facilities comply with the model rules. The subdivider must either install these facilities by the date of application for final plat approval or else post a bond or other financial guarantee with the county to cover their costs. See LGC 232.071-232.074. Incidentally, additional county requirements related to platting are contained in Subchapter A of Chapter 232 of the Texas Local Government Code (such as for roads and drainage) and in the Texas Water Development Board's Model Subdivision Rules, which some Subchapter C counties have adopted.

If a subdivision is within a city's extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), then the plat must also be approved by the city. See LGC 242.001. If within an ETJ city and county regulations conflict, then the more stringent regulation prevails. See LGC  242.001(h).

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Lot Sales Restrictions in Subchapter C Counties

Local Govt. Code 232.079(a) forbids the sale of a lot that should have been but has not been platted under Subchapter C. This prohibition extends to the subdivider of the land and a subdivider's agent. Thus, this prohibition applies to someone who divided land into at least two residential lots of five acres or less while Subchapter C covered the particular land divided.

Subchapter C contains no particular provisions governing sales involving contracts for deeds. However, a statewide law, Subchapter D of Chapter 5, Property Code, applies when a lot is sold through a contract for deed if the lot is to be the residence of the buyer or a close relative of the buyer.

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Utility Connections in Subchapter C Counties

Subchapter C has special restrictions on utility connections for land in subdivisions for which a plat is required under Subchapter C. See LGC 232.076 and 232.077. The main thrust of the restrictions is to prohibit utility service to unplatted lots in recently-created residential subdivisions. There are several significant details in these requirements.

Utilities restricted. In general, the requirements govern service by an entity providing water, sewer, electricity, gas, or other utility service. The entities include a city, a county, a municipally-owned utility, a public utility, a water supply or sewer service corporation, and a special district or authority. See LGC 232.077(c). Because no utility is involved, the drilling of water wells and the installation of on-site sewage facilities (like septic systems) are not prohibited.

Land divisions covered. Under LGC 232.077(a), utility restrictions apply only to land for which a plat is required by Subchapter C. Thus, these restrictions apply only to land outside city limits divided into at least two residential lots of five acres or less after August 31, 1997, and after the county has become a Subchapter C county (see maps). From Sept. 1, 1997, through August 31, 1999, under a provision now repealed, the land must also have been outside the extraterritorial jurisdiction of any city. Thus, the requirements do not apply to land that was legally platted prior to Sept. 1, 1997, or prior to the applicability of Subchapter C to a particular county or part of a county. Likewise, they do not apply to divisions of land for non-residential uses. Also, there is an exception in LGC  232.077(d) allowing utility service to a lot that was first served or connected with the utility service before Sept. 1, 1989, or between June 17, 1995 and August 31, 1997 (inclusive). Finally, if an enforcement action regarding a subdivision is pending, the court may halt termination of existing utility services upon making a finding that termination poses a threat to public health or to the health, safety, or welfare of the residents.

Certificate required. Assuming the land falls under the applicability provisions just discussed, under LGC 232.077(b) a utility may not serve or connect the land with water, sewer, electricity, gas, or other utility service unless the utility receives a certificate from the commissioners court stating that a plat has been reviewed and approved for the land. Two kinds of certificates are provided for in LGC  232.076: one that is automatically issued upon the court's approval of a plat, and another that is issued by the commissioners court upon request by the subdivider, a resident or lot owner, or a utility provider. If a plat is required but has not been reviewed and approved by the commissioners court, the lot will not be eligible for utility service.

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Revised: May 06 2010