Can I Split this Parcel of Land? A Simplified Guide to Land Division in Northern Michigan

Understanding how many times a piece of property can be divided or “split” is very important in understanding its value.  


The Land Division Act manages how land is split. This law has many details, but we’ll talk about the main points here. This will help landowners get a basic understanding.  One of the first things to know is that if you want to divide a land into smaller parts, and if any of the new parts is less than 40 acres, the local government has to check and approve it. Only after their approval can you sell, market, or officially record the new smaller lands. This checking is done by local officials at the township, village, or city level.


How many splits can I make?  It depends. It depends on the size of the original parcel called the  ‘parent parcel.’ How many offspring parcels (or splits) you can make depends on the size of the parent.  The parent parcel’s size and shape are important in making this determination.  

If the size of the  ‘parent parcel’ is 40 to 49.9 acres, it can be split 6 times (or divided into a total of 7 smaller parts); if it’s between 30 to 39.9 acres, it can be divided into 6 parts, and so on.

It’s a good idea to check the official records and talk to the local assessor to know how many divisions are left. I do this all the time for my clients.  If splits are left, check if 10 years have passed since the last division. If no divisions are left, or if 10 years haven’t passed since the last division, you’ll have to wait until 10 years are completed to divide the land further.


Of course, all of this is also dependent on a number of other factors such as 

  • Local Zoning Ordinances.  For example, as mentioned above, the land division act allows 7 splits for properties between 40 & 49.9 acres.  Well, in Leelanau Township, buildable lots must be a minimum of 10 acres.  So, despite what the land division act might allow, land owners in Leelanau Township will only be able to split a 49.9 acre lot into a total of 4 buildable lots.  
  • Conservation Easements: a tool used to help safeguard the land and preserve the natural, scenic, or rural features of the land now and for future generations.  These easements are memorialized in the form of a deed restriction (see below).  
  • Deed Restrictions: Deed restrictions set rules on the deed to a property, outlining certain limits or allowed uses.  Also called “restrictive covenants,” these limitations “run with the land” and therefore bind the current and future landowners.  

The local government office should have a form to fill out for land division requests. This form helps in understanding how many more divisions or re-divisions are allowed. It also helps in keeping clear records of the land. The form will ask for information about the land so that the official reviewing it can make sure the new divisions will:


  • Have clear legal descriptions,
  • Have a good size and shape,
  • Be easy to reach by road,
  • Have enough space for public utilities,
  • Property taxes paid up to date.  
  • The review by the local government is to check these points. If there are other local laws about land division, those need to be followed too. Any split can be split again after 10 years (provided that zoning allows).


It has been found that not all local government offices check everything they should. So, it’s good for landowners to fill out the detailed form to avoid any problems later. If you’re interested in splitting a parcel of land or purchasing a large parcel that you would like to ensure can be split now or in the future, feel free to reach out to me for help and advice.

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