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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

Last year 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: 10 years
  • Preliminary plat approved before January 1, 2015, including those approved before January 1, 2008 and within SMA jurisdiction: 7 years
  • Preliminary plat approved on or after January 1, 2015, regardless of where located: 5 years.

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.

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.


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About Bob Meinig

Bob wrote extensively on the state Open Public Meetings Act, municipal incorporation and annexation, and a wide variety of other legal topics. He is now retired.

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