Letters to the Editor
Editor's NoteWhen I first heard of U.S. Surveyor's "How to Survey Your Own Property" video, I too felt anger about another perceived assault on the profession. Upon reading in your editorial that "it shows the property element of taking a metal detector, shovel and 200-ft tape to recover iron monuments," I was struck by the irony of varying survey practices among those of us licensed by the state of New York.
In recent years there has been considerable debate over the importance of recovery and/or (re)placement of parcel monumentation in the standards for land surveys. The broad New York State Association of Professional Land Surveyors (NYSAPLS) Code of Practice states "monument and witness marks should be noted and referenced." The codes of practice of many NYSAPLS regional affiliates are more finite in definition.
In my own Niagara Frontier region we adopted the following language in 1991: "Monuments found or set shall be shown on the map with data given to show location with respect to boundaries. Where no monuments are evident, they shall be set."
The state Office of Professional Discipline has recognized the local practice in recent actions. However, we still encounter fellow practitioners who refuse to seek existing survey irons at parcel corners or show them on their survey maps, much less set them where they are lacking. My personal opinion is that the map the property owner receives at closing is no more valuable in defining on the ground what was purchased than the title abstract (or perhaps the smoke alarm certificate). I also find that "no-stake" surveyors seem to have locational disparities of feet in magnitude with adjoining work, sometimes produced by their own office.
Fortunately, most of us feel ethically bound by the tenets of classic survey textbooks such as Evidence and Procedures for Boundary Location by Brown and Eldridge: "In the process of performing a property survey, the surveyor goes upon the land and seeks evidence of existing monuments, makes measurements from found monuments to determine spots to dig or look for missing monuments, and makes measurements to tie found monuments together. From the evidence of monuments, measurements and computations, the surveyor comes to conclusions in accordance with the laws of evidence. The surveyor uses monuments to set new monuments in accordance with his conclusions. One of the reasons for giving the surveyor the exclusive privilege of marking boundaries is to prevent the unskilled from monumenting lines that encroach the bonafide rights of an adjoiner." Unfortunately the substandard practice of a few has a negative influence on the profession in general.
So in some respects, it's encouraging to note that the recovery of iron monuments is held up as an important "property element" in the U.S. Surveyor video. Your editorial discusses the potential the video has as a marketing tool. Now that New York is mandating continuing education, perhaps it can even be utilized to refresh licensees in the thorough investigation of boundary evidence in the field.
Neal Klettke, LS
ViewpointAs a professional engineer and licensed land surveyor in Connecticut, I have been forever mystified by the lack of a written standard for the determination of an actual boundary. In Connecticut we are required to attain a positional accuracy of greater than 1 in 5,000 to state that there has been an A-2 survey conducted-a task that is not very demanding with modern equipment. Almost all our work exceeds 1:30,000. There is no requirement for the appropriateness of our choice of location of the actual boundary! R. Lee Hixson's article ("Proposed: An ALTA/ACSM Record of Survey") was the best thing I've ever read relative to this very issue. In determining the actual location of a boundary, the accuracy with which the information was obtained is of secondary interest. The real point of the whole effort is, "Where is the boundary?" Everything else means very little. In Connecticut, a metes and bounds state, I am constantly faced with adjacent properties that, by deed or accident, do not fit together. I do not, nor does any surveyor in my state, attest to the accuracy of the determination of the boundary. We attest to the accuracy of the method used to gather the information that depicts the locations of objects relative to each other. I must ask the rhetorical question... So what does that tell me about my boundary? To my mind... not a darn thing. Hurrah for Mr. Hixson! He sure has my support.
David A King, PE, LS
Editor's NoteI am a "sirvayur" in Orange County, California. My mother-in-law sent out one of those lengthy letters that accompany Christmas cards and tell of all that's going on with the sender's family. She mentioned in the letter that Joe, (that's me) was still working as an assayer. I did not bother to correct her or to send out a notice of correction to all the recipients. Maybe after reading your note, though I should. Nah. People oftentimes have no idea what it is I do. I just hate being called a landscaper.