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The Deadline for Filing for Final Plat Approval and the Vesting Period for Final Plats – the Rules Change Once Again


June 6, 2013 by Bob Meinig
Category: Subdivisions and Planned Developments

In my blog post of June 12, 2012, I discussed the 2012 Legislature’s amendment to RCW 58.17.140 extending the time period after preliminary plat approval within which a subdivider has to file for final plat approval, two years after the Legislature’s previous extension of that time period. The 2013 Legislature has, effective July 28, 2013, once again amended that statute and extended that time period.

In SHB 1074 (Laws of 2013, ch. 16), the Legislature extended that time period for filing a final plat to ten years from the date of preliminary plat approval, if the date of preliminary plat approval was prior to January 1, 2008 and the plat is not subject to the Shoreline Management Act (SMA), chapter 90.58 RCW. Under the 2012 legislation, that time period had been extended to nine years, but only if the plat was within the boundaries of a city and not subject to the SMA. The 2013 Legislature removed the requirement that the plat be with a city’s limits.

The time period for submitting a final plat when the preliminary plat approval was on or after January 1, 2008 - or before that date when the plat is subject to the SMA - was not changed by this 2013 legislation. That period is seven years, if the preliminary plat approval is before January 1, 2015, and five years if the preliminary plat approval is on or after January 1, 2015.

So, in summary, here are the applicable time periods for filing a final plat as of July 28, 2013 (the effective date of SHB 1074):
  • Preliminary plat approved before January 1, 2008 and not within SMA jurisdiction: ten years

  • Preliminary plat approved before January 1, 2015, including those approved before January 1, 2008 and within SMA jurisdiction: seven years

  • Preliminary plat approved on or after January 1, 2015, regardless of where located: five years.

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Note that a city or county retains, under RCW 58.17.140(4), the authority to adopt by ordinance procedures to allow extensions of these time periods for filing a final plat, which extensions may include “additional or altered conditions and requirements.”

In addition to extending the time period for filing a final plat, SHB 1074 amends RCW 58.17.170 to extend the time period after final plat approval under which the plat approval is vested, in a manner parallel to the extension of the time period for filing a final plat. That vesting period is extended to ten years, if the date of final plat approval was prior to January 1, 2008 and the plat is not subject to the SMA. The plat need no longer be within a city to qualify for this extended vesting period. So, for qualifying plats, the plat can be developed according to “the terms of approval of the final plat, and the statutes, ordinances, and regulations in effect at the time of approval” for a period of ten years after final plat approval. After ten years have expired, development of the plat, if it has not already occurred, would be subject to any applicable statutes, ordinances, and regulations that had been enacted or amended since final plat approval.

The vesting period for other final plats remains unchanged from those set by EHB 2152 in 2012.

So, the applicable vesting periods for final plats are, as of July 28, 2013 (the effective date of SHB 1074), as follows:

  • Final plat approved before January 1, 2008 and not within SMA jurisdiction: ten years

  • Final plat approved before January 1, 2015, including those approved before January 1, 2008 and within SMA jurisdiction: seven years

  • Final plat approved on or after January 1, 2015, regardless of where located: five years.

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Let’s see what, if anything, the 2014 Legislature does to these time periods!

Note: these deadlines and deadline extensions do not apply to short plat approvals. RCW 58.17.140(2) requires that short plat processing, which is not divided by state law into preliminary and final stages, must be completed within 30 days of the application, unless the applicant agrees to an extension.

About Bob Meinig

Bob has written extensively on the state Open Public Meetings Act and on municipal incorporation and annexation. At MRSC, he has also advised local governments for over 25 years on diverse legal issues.

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Comments

"TJ - The plat extensions are automatically effective, because the state subdivision law must be followed locally. See RCW 58.17.030 ("Every subdivision shall comply with the provisions of this chapter.") But each local jurisdiction should amend its regulations to be consistent with state law, so that there is no confusion as to which applies."

Bob Meinig on Jul 2, 2013 7:21 AM

"Hi Bob. Thanks for the info. Are these plat extensions automatically effective or does a local jurisdiction need to update its subdivision ordinance?"

TJ Keiran on Jul 1, 2013 2:56 PM

"That statement comes from my interpretation of the legislation. Sometimes (often?) legislation is not as precise as it could be, and more than one reasonable interpretation is possible. Yours is certainly a reasonable interpretation, and I would not argue with a jurisdiction that adopted it. The statement of mine referencing "the five-year filing period for final plat approval" was me quoting from a May 2010 blog post of mine, as I noted when I quoted it in my June 10, 2013 reply to Craig Richie's question. In that context, it is a correct statement. Mr. Richie is a long-time city attorney."

Bob Meinig on Jun 27, 2013 8:13 AM

"Correction to one sentence in my previous post. So that means a plat that received Preliminary Approval in April of 2004 has until April of 2014 to submit a Final Plat."

Donna Breske on Jun 25, 2013 11:19 PM

"Bob, Were does your below statement/quote come from? "The extension applies to all preliminary plats approved prior to the effective date (June 10) that have not yet expired under RCW 58.17.140." And also, what are you referring to when you say, "and for which the five-year filing period for final plat approval will not expire prior to June 10" What five-year filing period? The five-years in RCW 58.17.140.3(a) is the time frame that final plats must be filed if they receive Preliminary Approval after Janualy 1, 2015. The extension to seven years, or ten years if there is no Shoreline element, (RCW 90.58), is temporary to get over through the hurdle of the recession and to now allow investors and developers that weren't able to finish plat construction and subsequently file for a final plat, during the past several years that ability. From the plain language of the proposed amendment to RCW 58.17.140 shown below, the RCW can breath new life into expired Preliminary Plats. For example, if Preliminary Plat approval was granted in April of 2004, the way I read RCW58.17.140.3(b) is that the Final Plat must be submitted to the legislative body of the city, town, or county for approval within ten years of the date of the Preliminary Plat approval. So that means a plat that received Preliminary Approval in April of 2004 has until December of 2014 to submit a Final Plat. I would advise Mr. Ritchie to check with the Planning Department of whatever jurisdiction he is working with and perhaps check with an attorney to confirm. 1 (3)(a) Except as provided by (b) of this subsection, a final plat 2 meeting all requirements of this chapter shall be submitted to the 3 legislative body of the city, town, or county for approval within seven 4 years of the date of preliminary plat approval if the date of 5 preliminary plat approval is on or before December 31, 2014, and within 6 five years of the date of preliminary plat approval if the date of 7 preliminary plat approval is on or after January 1, 2015. 8 (b) A final plat meeting all requirements of this chapter shall be 9 submitted to the legislative body of the city, town, or county for 10 approval within ten years of the date of preliminary plat 11 approval if the project is not subject to 12 requirements adopted under chapter 90.58 RCW((,)) and the and the date of 13 preliminary plat approval is on or before December 31, 2007."

Donna Breske on Jun 25, 2013 11:12 PM

"I don’t think the amendments to RCW 58.17.140 in 2010, 2012, and/or this year apply retroactively. So, if a preliminary plat expired for want of a filed final plat prior to the amendatory legislation being effective, that preliminary plat stays expired. There’s nothing in the amendments to RCW 58.17.140 or in its legislative history (bill reports) that suggests that they would operate retroactively. Anyway, I did address this issue in an article published in May 2010 (pre-MRSC blog start-up) regarding the 2010 amendment, which would apply equally to the 2012 and 2013 changes: • The extension applies to all preliminary plats approved prior to the effective date (June 10) that have not yet expired under RCW 58.17.140. Consistent with the evident intent of this legislation, it should be interpreted to apply to already-approved preliminary plats for which the subdivider has yet to apply for final plat approval and for which the five-year filing period for final plat approval will not expire prior to June 10, the effective date of this legislation. These preliminary plats - those in danger of expiring - are the focus of this legislation. The one category of preliminary plat approvals that will fall between the cracks of this extension are those that will expire before June 10. If a city or county has some of those, it could address the problem of looming expiration, should it choose, by issuing an extension authorized by RCW 58.17.140 ("Nothing contained in this section shall act to prevent any city, town, or county from adopting by ordinance procedures which would allow extensions of time that may or may not contain additional or altered conditions and requirements."). However, as stated in that statute, such extensions would have to be authorized through procedures previously adopted by local ordinance."

Bob Meinig on Jun 10, 2013 11:00 AM

"Bob, Does a plat which expired before the effective date of the 2010, 2012 or 2013 legislation remain expired or is the legislation retroactive and does it breath life into already expired plats? I know there is a presumption against retroactivity, but, maybe there is enough documentation to show a legislative intent for retroactivity. We have a couple of expired plats from 2004 and 2005 where this is an issue."

Craig Ritchie on Jun 10, 2013 10:15 AM

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