What is a Subdivision?
Generally speaking, subdivisions are any division or redivision of land for the purpose of sale, lease, or transfer of ownership. Anytime a property owner wants to create additional lots from a single lot, they will most likely be required to complete a subdivision.

Subdivisions can generally be grouped into two categories: administrative subdivisions and subdivisions requiring public hearings. Administrative subdivisions do not require public hearings or public notification, and are generally administered by county staff. Conditions placed on the proposal are drawn from relevant county codes.

Subdivisions requiring public hearings also involve staff recommendations, but ultimately the conditions placed on the subdivision are approved by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). The process includes staff analysis of relevant county codes, SEPA review, a public hearing, and recommendations from the Planning Commission before it is sent to the BOCC.

Administrative subdivisions are the most common form of subdivision in our County, and include:

Short Subdivisions - The division or redivision of land into 4 or fewer parcels, any of which is less than 5 acres in size (CCC 18.34).

Large Lot Subdivisions - A division or redivision of land where each lot is greater than 5 acres in size and any one is less than 10 acres in size (CCC 18.38).

Subdivisions requiring public hearings are generally known as “Long Plats.” Though less common, they typically involve significantly more lots than administrative subdivisions. They include:

Rural Subdivisions - Divisions of land containing 5 or more proposed lots, and are located in an area designated “Rural” by the Comprehensive Plan and/or Land Use Ordinance (CCC 18.50).

Urban Subdivision - Divisions of land containing 5 or more proposed lots, and are located in an area designated “Urban” by the Comprehensive Plan and/or Land Use Ordinance (CCC 18.32).

Planned Unit Developments - A type of subdivision characterized by a unified site design, clustering of buildings, common open space, density increases, and a mix of land uses and building types (CCC 18.30).

Show All Answers

1. The lot is currently forested, should I harvest the trees first or talk to the Planning Department?
2. What kind of work requires a building permit?
3. Where do I get an electrical permit?
4. My lot is forested, what are my options to harvest trees to develop?
5. What is a Subdivision?
6. What design criteria do I need to meet?
7. I removed some acreage from DFL, can I harvest trees to prepare the building site?
8. What is a Short Subdivision?
9. My land was recently harvested with a Department of Natural Resources Permit. What do I need to do to develop on my property?
10. What is an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit)?
11. I want to build a second home on my lot for my aging parent(s) or caregiver, what options do I have?
12. Can I rent out my ADU to a non-family member?
13. Can I build an ADU in an Unzoned area?
14. Where can I build a three unit development consisting of the primary dwelling, and two ADU’s?
15. How many additional on-site parking spaces are required for the ADU?
16. Can I use my household well and septic system for my new ADU?
17. My property has a mapped ‘Shoreline’ What does this mean?
18. I want to do work within a mapped shoreline on my property?
19. My property description says ‘DFL’ what does this mean?
20. How do I determine the Zoning or Comprehensive Plan designation of my lot?
21. What does ‘Unzoned’ [UZ] mean?
22. Is Unzoned land compatible with home construction?
23. What is the minimum acreage for subdivision?
24. Can I start the Planning Clearance process prior to purchasing the land?
25. I am trying to determine project feasibility, can I set up a meeting to talk about the process?
26. What is a Staff Consultation?
27. Does Cowlitz County charge Growth Management Act (GMA) impact fees?
28. I want to build a shop. What is my first required permit?
29. I want to build a house. What is my first required permit?
30. My lot needs an address, what are my options?
31. I need guidance on my multi-family project, where do I start?
32. My building site is near a stream or river, what options do I have?
33. My lot has a mapped landslide, what options do I have?
34. Is stormwater review necessary?
35. I used the EPIC map and my property has mapped erosive soils. What does this mean?
36. Where do I get a Mobile Home Alterations Permit?