J. Patrick Sutton Cases & Issues Blog

Resubdivision and Its Discontents

Seeking resubdivision of urban oversized lots is not the only way to divide and develop your property. There are alternative strategies for developing such properties.
A live issue in several older parts of Austin right now is whether a property owner can "resubdivide" a piece of property into smaller lots that still comply with City of Austin zoning requirements. Owners of large lots, seeing in-town property values skyrocket over the past few years, wish to live on one part of their lot and sell the remainder to a developer, for example.
The situations that are spawning lawsuits are where a property owner seeks permission from the city to subdivide but doesn't seek approval by vote of the subdivision property owners. Why would such a vote be necessary? Because when the subdivision was platted, there is a provision that requires such a vote, usually of a super-majority of owners within the subdivision. (The Shoalmont neighborhood in Austin is one example).
Property owners opposed to resubdivision argue that the city can't approve subdivisions where a platted deed restriction applies. The City of Austin argues that such deed restrictions cannot prevent it from approving resubdivisions and the issue of enforcement of the deed restrictions is a matter between residents -- a contract suit, in essence. Property owners wishing to develop their oversized lots are caught in the middle.
Our firm recommends a legal strategy for development of oversized lots subject to "resubdivision" restrictions that avoids seeking resubdivision at all. The laws of Texas have generally favored the rights of landowners to cut their land into smaller pieces. Our legal strategy in these situations is a straightforward procedure that results in the property owner's ability to develop separated portions of their property.
J. Patrick Sutton Cases & Issues Blog