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Thread: Need to learn more about platting/site plans, etc.

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Need to learn more about platting/site plans, etc.

    Any good books or online information to read up on to get a little more knowledgeable on this subject? I had an interview several months ago, the type where you're timed, and asked some questions. Needless to say, I got reamed on the questions dealing with this topic. One was "Explain platting to me in 2 minutes". Honestly, I had NO clue how to answer that. We never went over that in school in any way. I was also asked "From memory, please tell me what kind of information appears on a plat and why is that information there?". Again, totally clueless.

    I've got another interview on Tuesday and part of the job description includes reading and interpreting site plans. I really want to be on point for any questions like the above.

    Thank you for any help on the matter.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    You need to prepare answers to interview questions. If this is a city job, I would read up on the respective municipal code BEFOREHAND to see what are the plat requirements.

    Honestly, if you are interviewing for a planning job and can't define platting or identify components of a site plan then......[cricket chirp].....
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    You need to prepare answers to interview questions. If this is a city job, I would read up on the respective municipal code BEFOREHAND to see what are the plat requirements.

    Honestly, if you are interviewing for a planning job and can't define platting or identify components of a site plan then......[cricket chirp].....
    Well that's the thing, I was never exposed to that type of planning. My school dealt more with the "building community" type stuff, rather than the hard and fast rules and regulations.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    You need to prepare answers to interview questions. If this is a city job, I would read up on the respective municipal code BEFOREHAND to see what are the plat requirements.

    Honestly, if you are interviewing for a planning job and can't define platting or identify components of a site plan then......[cricket chirp].....
    That's too harsh. Planning is a very diverse field. Many planners will go through an entire career and never have to review a plat.
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  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    That's too harsh. Planning is a very diverse field. Many planners will go through an entire career and never have to review a plat.
    Agreed. There is a stint in my career in which I didn't so much as touch a plat for five years, and a cohort of mine is now 10 years into his career without having reviewed a plat. Now to offer constructive feedback and answer the OP's question:

    If you want something that is a fairly quick read and discusses site plans & plats, I would recommend The Job of the Practicing Planner by Albert Solnit. I believe it has two chapters dedicated to reviewing plats & site plans. A read of that will prepare you to read/interpret city-specific regulations, and it will give you the ability to respond better to interview questions like the one you encountered. Is this your first local government job in a more regulatory role? If so, that book also has a bunch of other useful stuff on working with developers, zoning reports, etc. It is very much written with the local government new professional in mind.

    For other new professionals, professors & students that may read this in the future, this is why so many planners on here emphasize the importance of internships in local government. I know of very few schools that really delve meaningfully into things like plats, evaluating proposals in a real-world environment, etc.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AG74683 View post
    Any good books or online information to read up on to get a little more knowledgeable on this subject? I had an interview several months ago, the type where you're timed, and asked some questions. Needless to say, I got reamed on the questions dealing with this topic. One was "Explain platting to me in 2 minutes". Honestly, I had NO clue how to answer that. We never went over that in school in any way. I was also asked "From memory, please tell me what kind of information appears on a plat and why is that information there?". Again, totally clueless.

    I've got another interview on Tuesday and part of the job description includes reading and interpreting site plans. I really want to be on point for any questions like the above.

    Thank you for any help on the matter.
    Don't know about books on the subject, because we learned by having a practicum. However, in a nutshell:

    Platting is the legal subdivision of land. It does not dictate land use, only how the land is divided. It is a legal document, and in Texas it is recorded at the appropriate county office. A plat can contain one lot or hundreds of lots. A legal description, property owner signatures, sign & seal of the surveyer, and a graphic which matches the legal description are required.

    Site plan shows how a piece of land, usually a platted lot, will be developed. We only require them for non-single family dwellings here, but other places may require them for homes too. At a minimum it includes building placement, drives, landscaping, access, adjacent uses, and street frontage. Also usual are setbacks, if there are additional regulations or an overlay which requires someing more than the base zoning.

    I prefer platting to zoning. Here it is more regulated and way less subjective.
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    I don't think I could speak about platting for 2 minutes. Perhaps for 30 seconds, but 2 minutes? It's just not that complicated of a concept. That said, I've never dealt a single plat in 6 years in the field. It's not out of the question for a planner to go an entire career working at a city department without ever having to deal with them. If you work for a built out community, it's just not something you typically ever have to deal with.

  8. #8
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I don't work in a jurisdiction that deals with platting. That is a county issue around these parts. I think having a passing knowledge is probably good, so you can talk about them if needed, but an in depth knowledge (unless you are taking a specific position that reviews or works with them) is not necessary.

    There are much greater needs in terms of knowledge base that I would focus on over plats.
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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    To the OP: don't feel bad, this wasn't covered in my program either, I learned about plats from my friend that is a land surveyor. The aforementioned Solnit book is a good resource.

    To nrschmid: Get off your high and mighty throne already. Either contribute to the thread in a meaningful way or let it go.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    If you work for a built out community, it's just not something you typically ever have to deal with.
    Amen to that.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    I don't think I could speak about platting for 2 minutes. Perhaps for 30 seconds, but 2 minutes? It's just not that complicated of a concept. That said, I've never dealt a single plat in 6 years in the field. It's not out of the question for a planner to go an entire career working at a city department without ever having to deal with them. If you work for a built out community, it's just not something you typically ever have to deal with.
    But still, it should be one of the basic skills for all planners. Even if you never use it, it's just good knowledge to have.
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  12. #12
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    But still, it should be one of the basic skills for all planners. Even if you never use it, it's just good knowledge to have.
    Agreed. Just an FYI a plat=subdivision right? It's my dumb blonde moment of the day.
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Agreed. Just an FYI a plat=subdivision right? It's my dumb blonde moment of the day.
    Here, yes.
    Subdivision = land distribution. Can be one lot, can be 100's of lots.
    Zoning = land use
    Site plan = built environment.
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Agreed. Just an FYI a plat=subdivision right? It's my dumb blonde moment of the day.
    Yes. It's one of the ways you can divide land
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    Yes. It's one of the ways you can divide land
    Understandable. Just in California we never use the term "plat". It's always subdivision/parcel. So we have subdivision maps (creating 5 or more legal lots of record) and parcel maps (creating 4 lots or less of legal lots of record). When some asks for a "plat" map i just look at them blankly lol.
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  16. #16
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    AG74683, don't limit your research to the local platting regulations. Look to the state's platting enabling legislation. Every state is different.


    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Understandable. Just in California we never use the term "plat". It's always subdivision/parcel. So we have subdivision maps (creating 5 or more legal lots of record) and parcel maps (creating 4 lots or less of legal lots of record). When some asks for a "plat" map i just look at them blankly lol.
    I hear you. When I got to Florida and somebody mentioned the term "plat," I ran to The Man and asked, "WTF is a plat?"

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    I don't think I could speak about platting for 2 minutes. Perhaps for 30 seconds, but 2 minutes? It's just not that complicated of a concept. That said, I've never dealt a single plat in 6 years in the field. It's not out of the question for a planner to go an entire career working at a city department without ever having to deal with them. If you work for a built out community, it's just not something you typically ever have to deal with.
    Even in some built out communities, you have to deal with redevelopment and re-platting, for instance if an old commercial area (say, a long-closed KMart and outparcels) is torn down and repurposed.

    In my second planner job (rezones, comp plan amendments, special exceptions), I was "selected" to be back-up to the subdivision guy (lucky me!) so I had to learn the plat process/review stuff in short order. It's a good skill to have, especially if you're seeking employment in a smallish agency in a developing area.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Here's an interview suggestion for when you don't know the answer: Don't try to bullsh!t your way out. Say "I don't know. We never covered that in class, and I have not had an opportunity to get any experience with that yet. But I am confident I could pick it up quickly since I have demonstrated the ability to do so in the past. For example, recently I had to learn XYZ in order to comprehensively address the issues in project ABC. I quickly got up to speed on it by doing 123 and finished the project properly and on time." In other words, divert the discussion of a weakness to one of a strength. That gives you the chance to showcase something good about yourself and to appear confident and capable.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by kjel View post
    To the OP: don't feel bad, this wasn't covered in my program either, I learned about plats from my friend that is a land surveyor. The aforementioned Solnit book is a good resource.

    To nrschmid: Get off your high and mighty throne already. Either contribute to the thread in a meaningful way or let it go.
    Fine, I'll contribute in a meaningful way. If the OP doesn't have the required training to understand plats, fine. Why the heck is he even applying for a job that requires platting?
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  20. #20
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Why the heck is he even applying for a job that requires platting?
    Because anyone and everyone worth their salt told the OP and anyone else who will listen that you have to fill out a brazilion apps to get a job in this market.
    -------
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  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    Here's an interview suggestion for when you don't know the answer: Don't try to bullsh!t your way out. Say "I don't know. We never covered that in class, and I have not had an opportunity to get any experience with that yet.
    Actually, that's exactly how I responded to the question.

    The job description for the first interview that asked the initial question said nothing about platting. I have a feeling that the job didn't even really require knowledge of it, just that they printed off a list of stock questions and asked them without really looking at them. To be honest, that interview was very strange. They called me at 9:30 PM the night before they wanted me there. It was a 2 hour drive, and the interview was at 9am. Gave me next to no time to read up on anything pertaining to their code.

    The one I am going for on Tuesday does want me to be able to read and understand site plans, which really isn't difficult. I have always heard of it referred to as a parcel, not as a plat. Was not really aware until now that they are essentially the same thing.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    No they are not always the same thing. Where I've worked, "site plans" are plans for individual non single family sites (apartments,commercial, industrial), showing parking, lighting, landscaping, etc. Plats are all about land division.

    When you are going for an interview... look at the jurisdiction's website, and see if staff reports and commission/council meeting minutes/videos are available. Educate yourself on the issues and what happened. If someone asks you about platting and site plans and you say "Yeah, I saw how your commission resolved XYZ issues last week and I was impressed by ....." you'll look a lot better.

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