In Wisconsin, parcels of land are commonly created by the approval and recording of either a final plat or a certified survey map (CSM). Prior to the approval of all final plats and prior to the approval of some CSMs, a preliminary plat is required to be approved that shows the generalized concept for how a subdivision will be laid out (street layouts, lot configurations, open spaces, etc.). In considering approval of a plat or CSM, the City must consider all the impacts the proposed subdivision will have on furthering the objectives of adopted City plans and the impacts the proposed subdivision will have on the City’s ability to provide municipal services. In most cases, the subdivision of land by final plat or CSM requires that the subject property be served with a full range of urban services, including public sanitary sewer and water. For more information on the subdivision process in the City of Madison, please see MGO Sec. 16.23.

Extraterritorial Jurisdiction

In addition to reviewing and approving the subdivision of land within the City limits, the City of Madison may also review subdivision requests within its extraterritorial plat approval jurisdiction as provided for under Wisconsin Statutes. Madison is allowed to review extraterritorial subdivisions located up to three miles from its municipal limits. However, the City has adopted an extraterritorial plat approval jurisdiction map that encompasses specific areas within three miles of the City limits.

View map of the current extraterritorial jurisdiction in affect

Process Overview

  1. Discuss with City Planning

    Please talk with Planning Division staff before proceeding with any plat or certified survey map.

    Where to Go

    Department of Planning and Community & Economic Development
    126 S. Hamilton St.
    Madison, WI 53703

    Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30 am – 4:30 pm

  2. Submit Application

    Submit your application to the Planning Division to begin the formal review process.

    What to Include
    • A completed Subdivision Application form [check the boxes near the top that apply to your request].
    • The review fee (make check payable to City of Madison Treasurer).
    • Map Copies drawn by a Wisconsin-registered land surveyor per the requirements in Wis. Stats. Sec. 236 and MGO Sec. 16.23:
      • Preliminary plat - 18 sets
      • Final plat - 16 sets
      • Certified survey map (CSM) - 16 sets
    • Two copies of a 60-year report of title from a title insurance company. A third copy of this report should be provided to the surveyor for use in the preparation of the subdivision maps.
    • An 8 1/2″ X 11″ reduced-size copy of the proposed survey maps.
  3. Subdivision Review

    Preliminary Plats and Final Plats

    Preliminary plats are reviewed by City departments for compliance with City ordinances and policies and adopted City plans prior to a hearing before the Plan Commission. Following a recommendation by the Plan Commission, the Common Council approves the preliminary plat by resolution.

    If the Common Council approves the preliminary plat, a final plat may be prepared by your surveyor and submitted for review by the Plan Commission, who will make a recommendation to the Common Council on approval. If determined to be in general conformance with the approved preliminary plat, the Common Council will approve the final plat by resolution.

    Under certain circumstances, it may be possible for the preliminary plat and final plat to be considered concurrently.

    Certified Survey Maps

    Certified survey maps are minor land divisions that can be used instead of a final plat to create a maximum of four parcels from an original parcel of property in a five-year period. CSMs are reviewed by City departments for compliance with adopted City plans, ordinances and policies.

    Most Certified Survey Maps are administratively approved within 45 days of the submittal of a complete application. However, all extraterritorial CSMs and some CSMs within the City are reviewed and acted on by the Plan Commission following the recommendations of reviewing City agencies. In the event of a dedication of public land and/or easement, a resolution approved by the Common Council is required prior to recording of the CSM.

  4. Subdivision Approval

    If the subdivision or land division request is approved, the Planning Division will send the applicant or his/her agent a letter outlining the conditions of approval. In order for the City to be able to sign the survey instrument prior to recordation, the conditions in the letter will have to be met as verified by City staff.

  5. Recording Final Plats and Certified Survey Maps

    Once the conditions of approval of the final plat or CSM have been verified by City agencies, the Secretary of the Plan Commission or his/her designee signs the instrument as necessary before recording proceeds. Afterwards, a certificate signed by the City Treasurer indicating that all due taxes and special assessments are paid is required prior to recording of any final plat or CSM. Finally, a certificate signed by the City Clerk stating the Common Council's approval of all final plats and any CSMs where a resolution was required is required.

    Once all of the necessary City signatures have been affixed to the final plat or Certified Survey Map, the instrument may be recorded at the Register of Deeds Office.

    Register of Deeds Office
    City-County Building

    210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Room 110
    Madison, WI 53703

Related Forms & Handouts