Ever wonder how they determine where that new road is going to go or how they decide how wide it is going to be? How do they decide if Q road will be limited access or not? How do they make the decision to widen and improve an existing road?
The Major Road Plan (a.k.a Major Thoroughfare or Right-of-Way Plan) is the document that generally controls and directs the above decisions. The Major Road Plan is usually a map that defines where future roads are to go and what existing roads are to get improvements, and the plan often looks out 20 to 30 years in the future. The Major Road Plan for example, would depict where a bypass road was proposed around town and would also show if a road through town was to be widened.
The Major Road Plan works in conjunction with Subdivison Regulations and will graphically display proposed road improvements and the corresponding subdivision regulations will define and explain the proposed improvements. For example, the Major Road Plan map may depict a future arterial road connecting with an existing road. The subdivision regulations will define what an arterial road is, how much right-of way or width it will contain, and possibly it’s design and construction standards.
Most Major Road Plans are often filed in the local register of deeds office or other official public recording office — most major and many smaller jurisdictions will have or be a part of one. In larger jurisdictions, the plan will be drafted by something called the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) but that is something for another post.
Why should real estate investors care about the Major Road Plan?
- The Major Road Plan helps determine where future growth will be directed and its timing. The direction and timing of future growth of course can have an impact on any land you might own or wish to own. Obviously a major thoroughfare adjoining your land will improve its value. Plus, if you can buy, hold and wait for a while, you can make a handsome return once the road gets out to you.
- The Plan depicts those roads which are scheduled for improvement or widening. The last thing you want to do is purchase a home or business on a road and then have the front yard or parking lot taken by eminent domain. How much will your property be worth if there is a six lane highway outside your front door? Do not think this does not happen. I have witnessed bureaucrats tell frustrated property owners that “The road has been on the plan for 20 years, I am sorry you did not check it out before you bought the property.” Check the plan before you buy.
- If you plan to build or develop, the local jurisdiction may require that you dedicate right-or-way or even build your portion of the road that fronts on your property. This can be significant if you only have an acre of land and have to give 100 feet of right-of-way to the city or build one half of a six lane road.
So take a few minutes to find and look at your jurisdiction’s Major Road Plan. Not only might it save you some major hassle down the road so to speak, but you will get a sense of where development is planned and might just come up with some new investing ideas on your own. Should you worry about this all the time? No. If you are on a cul-de-sac or an interior street in a subdivision you are most likely ok. But you never know what plans other people have for your property, so check it out.
Photo: Kyle May