Subdivision regulations like the zoning ordinance exercise police power. In some respects, subdivision regulation is more significant because it deals with new development. Subdivision regulations can ensure that new development pays for the costs it creates.
They seek to ensure that a new project does not disrupt existing services or create health or safety hazards. They are also crucial in protecting the natural environment.
Subdivision regulations provide for the future by providing the required rights-of-way for the major street network. Subdivision regulations can prevent urbanization from taking place at rural standards. Unpaved roads, septic tanks, and open and unimproved drainage ditches can work for a while, but unless the density of development is low enough to ensure the perpetuation of the rural character of the area, further development usually shifts the cost of remedying the deficiencies to the residents or the city. These are costs that are most often higher than the initial costs would have been.
The subdivision regulations become applicable where there is division or development of land falling under the definition of a subdivision. This blanket guides subdivisions through the preliminary and final plating procedure. The subdivision regulations provide minimum design standards for lots, streets and alleys, sidewalks, and provisions concerning improving storm drainage, sanitary sewers, and underground wiring.
Subdivision regulations can be significant for a city like Kansas City, where the outskirts have received sporadic bursts of rural residential-type development over several decades. This has resulted in many small two to ten-acre parcels, especially in the city’s western parts. Such small divisions make it more challenging to assemble viable projects, increasing development costs and scattered housing. Larger ownership must be preserved if the area is to realize its development potential.