Preliminary, Final, Exempt Plats, and Right-of-Way Withdrawals

Subdivision of a parcel of land into two or more lots for the purpose of sale or development, or to dedicate new streets or change existing streets, requires approval through the review of a plat. Some changes to parcels are not considered “subdivisions” per North Carolina General Statute and can be reviewed through an exempt plat. A list of the types of changes that are considered exempt can be found in UDO Sec. 3.6 Subdivision Review. All other changes must be approved through a final plat. 

A preliminary plat must be approved before the approval of a final plat for all subdivisions for development of more than six lots, with public dedication of land, new streets, utility extensions, required diffuse flow mechanisms, or required stormwater management facilities. Preliminary plats can show only the proposed division of lots and infrastructure or a site plan, which provides more detailed development information, may act as the preliminary plat. A major final plat must be approved after the approval of a preliminary plat to formally subdivide the parcels of the development. 

Any subdivision for development of six or fewer lots with none of the above noted infrastructure requirements may be reviewed as a minor final plat, rather than as a preliminary plat, and would not require the subsequent approval of a major final plat. Applicants must submit documentation that no stormwater management facilities would be required at the time the minor final plat application is submitted. 

For more information about a proposed subdivision of land, a virtual Concept Meeting may be scheduled. Concept meetings are conducted virtually on Thursdays, on the half-hour between 1:00pm-5:00pm. There is no fee for this service. Time slots are 25 minutes and arranged on a first-come, first-served basis. Same-week scheduling is possible if time slots are available, but the request must be received by 12:00pm Tuesday to allow sufficient review time prior to conducting the meeting.  

It is very helpful - but not required - to upload a site sketch or preliminary plan of the proposal. Plans should be transmitted at the same time the meeting is scheduled as step 2 of the scheduling process.


Per North Carolina General Statute 136-96 and Durham City Charter § 51.2, a right-of-way that has been dedicated but not opened and used by the public within 15 years from the dedication of the right-of-way may be eligible for withdrawal. Any public improvement in the right-of-way, including utilities, is considered public use.

Upon receipt of a complete Right-of-way Withdrawal Application the City will review the draft plat and application. If the City does not accept the right-of-way within 30 days of the receipt of an application, once comments are addressed and the draft plat showing the Right-of-way Withdrawal is deemed to be correct and complete, it is approved/stamped and can be recorded at the Register of Deeds Office, along with an approved Declaration of Withdrawal.

If the City determines that the right-of-way has already been accepted for maintenance by the City or the City formally accepts the dedication within 30 days of receipt of the letter, the right-of-way may not be withdrawn. The street closing process would be required if the applicant intends to continue pursuing removal of the right-of-way.

Plat Checklists

  1. Final Plat, Exempt Plat, and ROW Withdrawal Application and Submittal Checklist (PDF)
  2. Plat Amendment Application and Submittal Checklist (PDF)

Next Steps

Concept Meeting



Payment Portal

  • Payment Portal
    1. Use payment option “4-Planning”
    2. Use the DSC Fees and Payment Menu., Section 24. Final and Exempt Plats (page 27) and section 25. Preliminary Plats (page 27-28),  for your specific payment fee.

Submittal Portal

Please use the portal(s) below to submit your application. If the online form is not working, please use the direct links, outlined below, for your application: