About Amerisurv| Contact    
Magazine | Newsletter    
Flickr Photos | Advertise    
HomeNewsNewsletterAmerisurv DirectoryJobsStoreAuthorsHistoryArchivesBlogVideosEvents
 
advertisement


Subscriptions
Sponsored By

Software Reviews
Continuing Series
     RTN
An RTN expert provides everything you need to know about network-corrected real-time GNSS observations.
Click Here to begin the series,
or view the Article PDF's Here
76-PageFlip Compilation
of the entire series
Test Yourself

Got Answers?
Test your knowledge with NCEES-level questions.
  Start HERE
Meet the Authors
Check out our fine lineup of writers. Each an expert in his or her field.
Wow Factor
Sponsored By


Product Reviews
Partner Sites

machinecontrolonline 


lbszone.com

GISuser.com

GeoJobs.biz

GeoLearn

 

Spatial Media LLC properties

Associates

ASPRS

newsnow 

Home arrow Archives   The American Surveyor     

Reconnaissance: The Surveyor's Roles & Responsibilities—Ensuring the American Dream, Part 3 Print E-mail
Written by Gary Kent, PS   
Sunday, 29 June 2014

A 74Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

In the first two installments of this series, we looked at the background of the problem that boundary surveyors face and, more often than not, propagate. That misfortune is this: the irony of surveyors (1) ostensibly doing their job by retracing record descriptions and yet, in the process, (2) leaving clients and their adjoiners--if not entire neighborhoods--in confusion and despair, if not litigation.

Interestingly, the way out of this conundrum is the same whether surveyors arrive at their boundary solutions by the unfortunate practice of "fence line" surveying, by the equally egregious practice of mathematical "deed-staking," or by properly applying the applicable boundary law principles based on a thorough analysis of the facts and evidence.

Of course, we always hope and trust that surveyors resolve boundaries in consideration of proper training and experience, the local standard of care exercised by the prudent surveyor in the same circumstance, and any written standards that the jurisdiction has adopted, but the solution works regardless of the means that the surveyor employed.

The answer ties directly into the fact that only the two affected owners can resolve a boundary or title problem. And they have two choices: agreement or litigation. Hopefully, no one would suggest that litigation is the more desirable of the two, although if one or both of the affected landowners cannot, or will not, compromise, they will likely be destined for court.

Of course, sometimes the surveyor has been drawn into a situation by an owner or attorney long after the dye to a dispute has been cast, in which case, it is likely too late to foster an agreement (although there is nothing to prevent that discussion with the attorney and owner). Also, if the boundary is part of an ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey, there will be a title company and normally several attorneys who merely need the surveyor to clearly present the facts so they can determine the means they deem most appropriate to get the transaction closed.

Otherwise, when the surveyor is "first on the scene" why provoke owners by setting corners and drawing plats/maps/plans that show lines and corners contrary to what appear to be long-standing and/or accepted boundaries? By stopping short of setting the corners, the chances for a successful agreement will be tremendously increased.

One might ask though, "What about my state standards which require setting of corners?" Remember, if there is a boundary or title conflict (and corners set contrary to established lines of possession certainly carry with them the beginnings of a contentious title problem or boundary dispute) the only people who can resolve it are the two owners. Setting a corner when it conflicts with possession will take the hidden, make it blatantly obvious, and sow the seeds of a dispute.

So, rather than merely set the corners and figuratively walk away, the surveyor should recognize the desirability of engaging the two affected owners in a conversation about the situation on the ground, what the records say, and the fact that only they can resolve the issue. The conversation should include the possibilities--agreement or litigation--and the potentialities. In order to have a chance at successfully leading owners to agreement rather than litigation, surveyors need a number of tools.

The first is a contract that spells out what the surveyor will do: retrace the boundary to a final resolution unless a title or boundary problem is revealed, in which case, the contract is fulfilled, pending resolution of the problem. The surveyor could then use a second contract under which he or she would work with the affected parties to try to help them come to agreement. If agreement is reached, the third step would be to undertake an engagement to write the descriptions and prepare the necessary plats, maps or plans to bring that agreement to fruition.

Of course, different jurisdictions have different requirements, of which the surveyor must be fully informed. Some will allow the simple exchange of deeds, while others may require a survey, lot line adjustment, administrative plat or resubdivision, etc. Also, surveyors must make it very clear that they cannot offer legal advice and that, at some point, it will likely be desirable, if not necessary, to bring the owner's attorneys to the table to address the legal necessities (i.e., mortgages, title insurance, taxes, judgments, exchange of consideration, and preparation of any legal documents if the owners are unable or unwilling).

The second tool surveyors will require is twofold: (1) an interest in, and the ability to, engage with the owners on this sort of level, and (2) the training to facilitate an effective agreement. The former is contrary to the nature of most surveyors and will therefore take some practice to overcome. The latter can be gained through attending a course on alternative dispute resolution (there are many sources of such training), and anyone interested in becoming, for example, a mediator, should also review their state's related rules and laws.

Lastly, surveyors need to be very wellversed in the legal aspects of boundaries and unwritten rights. While they cannot give legal advice, they should understand the requirements of each type of unwritten right for their state (e.g., adverse possession, [recognition and] acquiescence, parol agreements, estoppel, and, in some states, common grantor doctrine and practical location, etc.). This knowledge will greatly assist them as they try to guide the owners to an agreement.

To summarize, we are not talking about surveyors retracing boundaries based on unwritten rights (which they do not have the authority to do), forcing owners into ill-advised agreements, or hiding the facts from them. What we are talking about is surveyors recognizing conflicts or potential conflicts early on, not unnecessarily and prematurely finalizing surveys and setting points that exacerbate those problems, and encouraging surveyors to work with the only people that can actually solve the problems--the affected owners.

Let's be the facilitator to solutions to the problems we find. As has been said many times, if all we find are problems, and if we offer no solutions, perhaps we are the problem!

Gary Kent is Director, Integrated Services at The Schneider Corporation in Indianapolis. He is past-president of ACSM and chairs the ALTA/ACSM Committee for NSPS and the Liaison Committee for ALTA. He is on the Indiana Board of Registration and lectures both locally and nationally.

A 74Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

 
< Prev   Next >

 American Surveyor Recent Articles
Editorial 
Thought Leader: Land is Too Important to Be Left to Land Specialists
A while back I was searching the Internet for an old treatise on land titles. A Google query yielded a book published in 1914. The author was Charles Claudius Kagey and the book was titled "Land Survey and Land Titles, a book for boys and girls, a reference volume for property owners, a text ....
Read the Article
Jason E. Foose, PS 
Decided Guidance: Wacker vs. Price - Irony in Sevenfold
This month's case takes us to Phoenix, Arizona in 1950. The Arizona Supreme Court went all guns-a-blazin' in Wacker vs. Price (216 P.2d 707 (Ariz. 1950)). Maybe it's just me, but I'm sensing plenty of irony and have taken license to point it out along the way. I like what the Court did with this case ....
Read the Article
Allen E. Cheves 
Around the Bend - A Visit to Carlson Software
The Ohio River is one of America's greatest, running near 1,000 miles between Pittsburgh and the Mighty Mississippi. Much of the coal and other products that fueled our nation's industrial expansion flowed between the shores of this maritime ....
Read the Article
Lee Lovell, PS 
Surveying & Mapping Economics Part 3 - Customers & Services
This article continues an inquiry into the economic conditions of the Surveying and Mapping industry (NAICS 541370) using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This time we will look at customers and services. The data comes from the Economic Census conducted every 5 years on American ....
Read the Article
Jerry Penry, PS 
True Elevation: Black Elk Peak
Black Elk Peak, located in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, is the state's highest natural point. It is frequently referred to as the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Two other peaks, Guadalupe Peak in Texas and ....
Read the Article
Larry Trojak 
Bringing The Goods - Mobile Scanning an Integral Component
When Jim Smith, Jerrad Burns and Charlie Patton left the Memphis division of a major construction company in 2015, they took with them the knowledge of how to get even the most complex jobs done and what equipment could best serve them in making that happen. So when they joined West ....
Read the Article
 
Lee Lovell, PS 
Test Yourself 41: Integers, Integers, and Integers
ABF is a 5:12:13 triangle, ACF is a 48:55:73 triangle, ADF is a 3:4:5 triangle, and AEF is a 7:24:25 triangle, all with integer sides and inscribed in a semi-circle. What are the lengths of BC, CD, and DE? ....
Read the Article
Wendy Lathrop, PS, CFM 
Vantage Point: Sunset or Sunrise?
While we often think of legislated government programs as static, they do change over time. Such evolution and opportunity for transformation are part of the dialogue in reauthorizing these programs. Every so many years there is a sunset on each government program, and this September is the ....
Read the Article
 

deliciousrssnewsletterlinkedinfacebooktwitter

Amerisurv Exclusive Online-only Article ticker
Featured Amerisurv Events
List Your Event Here
please
contact Amerisurv


Google
 
AMERISURV TOP NEWS

JAVAD Intros
Spoofer Buster

GOT NEWS? Send To
press [at] amerisurv.com
Online Internet Content

Sponsor


News Feeds

 
Subscribe to Amerisurv news & updates via RSS or get our Feedburn
xml feed

Need Help? See this RSS Tutorial

Historic Maps
Careers

post a job
Reach our audience of Professional land surveyors and Geo-Technology professionals with your GeoJobs career ad. Feel free to contact us if you need additional information.

 

Social Bookmarks

Amerisurv on Facebook 

Amerisurv LinkedIn Group 

Amerisurv Flickr Photos 

Amerisurv videos on YouTube 

twitter

 




The American Surveyor © All rights reserved / Privacy Statement
Spatial Media LLC
905 W 7th St #331
Frederick MD 21701
301-620-0784
301-695-1538 - fax