What is a Site Plan?

Many people arrive at my web site by searching for the answer to the question “What is a Site Plan”? Here is a somewhat simplified answer to that question for projects situated in the State of New Jersey, although I suspect much of this explanation will be true for other states.

A site plan is a plan to develop one or more lots, usually to construct a building or structure of some sort along with the other improvements to the property that support the new building. These improvements may include:
Utility services – gas, electric, water, sewer, telephone, cable, etc.
Driveways and parking lots;
Walkways and means of ingress and egress;
Drainage systems;
Landscaping, and more.

In New Jersey, the term site plan is not usually associated with the development of individual one and two family dwellings on existing lots as these projects do not require Planning Board approval. Otherwise the term is accurate for those types of project, as well.

The plan must start out with a detailed survey of the property, performed by a Professional Land Surveyor, who will locate the existing features on the property and depict them on a survey plat. The information required to be shown on the existing conditions survey is generally contained in the check list requirements enumerated in the municipality’s land use ordinance. In addition, the Professional Land Surveyor must prepare the survey in accordance with the laws and regulations that govern the preparation of land surveys in New Jersey.

The applicant’s Architect and Professional Engineer then design the layout of the buildings and other improvements on the site while working within the constraints set forth in the local Zoning Ordinance, such as, allowable building size, minimum setbacks from the property lines for the building and site improvements, required number of parking spaces and more.

A set of Site Plan drawings normally includes some sheets that are “bird’s eye” views of the property, showing both the existing conditions as well as the proposed improvements. Often, due to the large amount of information required on these drawings, individual sheets are provided for specific subject matters, e.g. Grading Plan, Lighting Plan, Landscaping Plan, Utility Plan. The applicant may also be required to show floor plans of the building as well as building elevations and building renderings so that the reviewing board can visualize what the completed project will look like. Similarly, details of the site improvements are generally included. Full building details, structural, electrical and plumbing plans are not usually requested.

It is always important to have an experienced team of professionals to assist you in preparing a site plan for your building project. If you would like more information about the development process in the State of New Jersey please visit my web site www.carlepeters.com or email me at cpeters@carlepeters.com.