Subdividing Property

A Subdivision is the process of creating new lot lines, or modifying or vacating existing lot lines.Subdivisions of property are reviewed and regulated in accordance with City Code Chapter 33.1

Types of Subdivisions

Minor and Major Subdivisions

A Minor Subdivision is the division of a tract of land into fewer than ten (10) lots abutting an existing public road and which does not create a new street or extend an existing street as well as any plat that modifies, vacates, or adjust property lines. Townhouses or condominiums are considered a Minor Subdivision. Minor Subdivision applications are administratively reviewed approved. If the Minor Subdivision creates over three (3) new lots, the application will require site plan review.

Minor Subdivision Application Form

A Major Subdivision is the division of a tract of land into ten (10) or more lots or any division which creates a new street or extends any existing street, or otherwise does not qualify as a Minor Subdivision. Major Subdivisions applications require site plan review.

Major Subdivision Application Form

Applicants should be sure to consult the Submittal Requirements Checklist on the applications to ensure that all the required information and materials are included with the application when it is submitted. Planning staff can be consulted if additional information is needed prior to submitting an application.

Zoning Ordinance Standards

Lots created must meet the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance. Nonconforming lots may not be created.

Existing nonconforming lots may be used in accordance with City Code Section 40.2-404 - Nonconforming Lots. 

Applicants should refer to TABLE 40.2-218(1) : AREA AND BULK REQUIREMENTS, TABLE 40.2-218(2): AREA AND BULK REQUIREMENTS,Table 40.2-206(1): Dimensional Requirements within Historic Districts, and Table 40.2-207: Downtown Sub-Districts Dimensional Standards in the Zoning Ordinance prior to submitting a subdivision application to obtain minimum lot requirements.

Subdivision Application Process

Applicants are encouraged to consult with the Planning Staff prior to submitting an application for a subdivision.

The fees for subdivisions are as established in City Code Appendix A Portsmouth Fee Schedule. 

Preliminary approval process

The applicant will need to submit a completed subdivision application to begin the preliminary process. 

A completed subdivision application includes a filled out (Minor or Major) Subdivision Application, paid review fee (see Subdivision Application Fee Table below), and, at a minimum, submission of two (2) 18”x24” hard copies and a digital copy of preliminary plats to the Planning Department. Digital copies can be submitted to [email protected].

The application will be considered incomplete if the subdivision form is not completely filled out, the review fee has not been paid, or the applicant has not submitted either the hard copies and/or digital copy of the preliminary plat. The process does NOT move forward until all these requirements have been met.

Please note: Site plan submittal is also required for all Major Subdivisions and Minor Subdivisions that create over three (3) new lots.

Following the submittal of a completed application, a router will be sent to City departments for review and comment. 

Click here for the Preliminary Review Checklist and Required Subdivision Statements.

If the preliminary plat is denied, the staff coordinator will notify the applicant of the specific reasons for denial. If revisions must be made to the preliminary plat prior to final approval, the staff coordinator will notify the applicant with a list of revisions. Preliminary revisions can be submitted electronically, unless new hard copies are requested. 

If the preliminary plat is approved, the staff coordinator will notify the applicant with a “preliminary approval letter” and the process for final approval and recordation. 

Final Approval Process and Subdivision Recordation

The applicant will need to submit two (2) copies of the mylar to the Planning Department. Submitted mylars must be signed by the owner and notarized prior to submittal to the Planning Department.

Note: An electronically formatted file shall be submitted containing all information shown on the Final Plat. The following file formats will be accepted: CAD file (.DWG); ESRI – Shape files; or ESRI – File Geodatabase.

Mylars will be reviewed and signed by the City Engineer and Director of Planning. The applicant will be notified once the mylars have been signed.

Once notified, the applicant will pick up one (1) of the two (2) signed mylars, attached with a “recordation of final subdivision plat” form, from the Planning Department to submit to the Circuit Court for recording.

After recordation by the Clerk of the Circuit Court, return the completed “recordation of final subdivision plat” form to the Planning Department and the staff coordinator will submit a copy to the City Assessor’s Office.

Subdivision Exceptions

Click here for detailed information about the Subdivision Exception process and requirements. Note that subdivision exceptions cannot be granted for any waiver of the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance.

Subdivision Application Submission

Completed applications should be submitted by email whenever possible. Email applications for Subdivisions to [email protected]

Electronic/digital submission of applications and other materials is encouraged whenever feasible.

For items that cannot be emailed, applicants can send items by US Postal Service, FedEx, or UPS (as appropriate for the application type).



Credit card payments can now be accepted over the phone. Please call the Planning Department at 757-393-8836 for more information.

Please note that a signed credit card authorization form is required to be submitted before a credit card payment can be processed.

Subdivision Application Fee Table

Minor plat (subdivision or condominium)
$100.00 plus $11.00 per lot
Major, preliminary
$100.00 plus $11.00 per lot
For land zoned commercial or industrial,
$100.00 plus $27.00 per lot
Major, final
$100.00 plus $11.00 per lot
For land zoned commercial or industrial,
$100.00 plus $27.00 per lot
Subdivision variance, per application
Plat vacation, per application
Modification, resubdivisions, relocation of lot lines, per application
Modification without new lots or new improvements, per application

Fees as established in City Code Appendix A Portsmouth Fee ScheduleFees are typically non-refundable