Subdividing Land

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

The City of Madison may also review subdivision requests within its extraterritorial plat approval jurisdiction. Madison can review extraterritorial subdivisions up to three miles from its municipal limits. However, the City has adopted an extraterritorial plat approval jurisdiction map. The map includes specific areas within three miles of the City limits.

To know if your property is within the City’s approval jurisdiction, please contact the Planning Division. You can email Planning at or (608) 266-4635. Please allow up to three (3) business days for a response. 

Process Overview

  1. Discuss with City Planning

    Please talk with Planning staff before getting a plat or certified survey map. Note: the Planning office is currently open to the public by appointment only. Since many staff are working remotely, we are holding these meeting virtually. Please call Planning at (608) 266-4635 to schedule an appointment.

    Where to Go

    Department of Planning and Community & Economic Development

    215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd Suite 017

    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.


    Review the current Development Review Schedule for the Plan Commission and Common Council. The two columns on the left contain the submittal dates, which vary depending on the request(s). The middle three columns are the corresponding Urban Design Commission, Plan Commission, and Common Council meetings. (Read across the row from the submittal date). Deadlines occur on designated Mondays at 12:00 p.m., unless otherwise noted. 

    Where to Go

    Online (Staff are currently only accepting digital (PDF) submittals - not paper)

    What to Include

    • Applicants are to submit each of the following documents as individual PDF files in an email sent to
      • A completed Subdivision Application form
      • Map Copies (prepared by a Registered Land Surveyor):
        • For Preliminary Plats, the drawings must be drawn to scale and are required to provide all information as set forth in M.G.O. Sec. 16.23 (7)(a).
        • For Final Plats, the drawings must be drawn to scale and drawn to the specifications of §236.20, Wis. Stats..
        • For Certified Survey Maps (CSMs), the drawings shall include all of the information set forth in M.G.O. Secs. 16.23 (7)(a) and (d), including existing site conditions, the nature of the proposed division and any other necessary data. Utility data (field located or from utility maps) may be provided on a separate map submitted with application.
        • For Plats & CSMs, in addition to the PDF copy, a digital CADD file shall be submitted in a format compatible with AutoCAD. The digital CADD file(s) shall be referenced to the Dane County Coordinate System and shall contain, at minimum, the list of items stated below, each on a separate layer/level name. The line work shall be void of gaps and overlaps and match the plat, preliminary plat or CSM as submitted: a) Right-of-Way lines (public and private); b) Lot lines; c) Lot numbers; d) Lot/Plat dimensions; e) Street names; f) Easement lines (i.e. all in title and shown on the plat or CSM including wetland & floodplain boundaries.
      • Letter of Intent: One copy of a letter describing the proposed subdivision or land division in detail including, but not limited to:
        • The number and type/use of the lots and outlots proposed with this subdivision or land division, including any outlots to be dedicated to the public;
        • Existing conditions and uses of the property;
        • Phasing schedule for the project, and;
        • The names of persons involved (property owner(s), subdivider, surveyor, civil engineer, etc.).

    * The letter of intent for a subdivision or land division may be the same as the letter of intent submitted with a concurrent Land Use Application for the same property.
    ** A letter of intent is not required for Subdivision Applications for lot combinations or split duplexes

    • Report of Title and Supporting Documents: All applications submitted for approval shall include an Electronic submittal, in PDF format, of a City of Madison standard 60-year Report of Title obtained from a title insurance company as required in M.G.O. Sec. 16.23 and as satisfactory to the Office of Real Estate Services. The Report of Title must have been completed within three (3) months of the submittal date of this application. Title insurance or a title commitment policy are NOT acceptable (i.e. a Preliminary Title Report or a Record Information Certificate). The electronic PDF submittal shall include images of the vesting deeds and all documents listed in the Report of Title.
    • For Surveys Outside the Madison City Limits: A copy of the approval letters from the town where the property is located and Dane County shall be submitted with your request. The Plan Commission may not consider an application within its extraterritorial jurisdiction without prior approval from the town and Dane County.

    Please note that an individual email cannot exceed 20 MB. It is the responsibility of the applicant to present files in a manner that can be accepted. If dividing the submittal materials into multiple, smaller components (in order to meet the email size limit), please clearly indicate the total number of email components in the subject line (e.g.: “Land Use Application for 123 Elm Street - email 1 of 4”, “…2 of 4”, etc.) and label the email attachments accordingly (e.g.: “Site Plan 1 of 3”, “…2 of 3”, etc.). Applicants who are unable to provide the materials electronically should contact the Planning Division at or (608) 266-4635 for assistance.

  3. Submit The Review Fee

    Make checks payable to “City Treasurer” and mail it to the following address: City of Madison Building Inspection; P.O. Box 2984; Madison, WI 53701-2984. Please include a cover page with the check which includes the project address, brief description of the project, and contact information.

    • For Preliminary and/or Final Plats, an application fee of $250, plus $50 per lot or outlot contained on the plat.
    • For Certified Survey Maps, an application fee of $250 plus $200 per lot and outlot contained on the CSM

    The fee can be mailed in, dropped in the drop box at the Madison Municipal Building, or you can make an appointment at the Zoning counter to pay the fee. Checks should be made out to “City Treasurer.” If you mail in the check or use the drop box, please include a cover page which includes the project address, brief description of the project, and contact information. Zoning staff typically suggest using the drop box or making an appointment with the Zoning counter to pay the fee as they are the quickest.

  4. Subdivision Review

    If the subdivision or land division request is approved, the Planning Division will send the applicant or their 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 their 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

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