Point of Beginning

Letters: Traversing the Law - June 09

July 7, 2009
"In 'Florida’s illegal standards,' Lucas has suggested that surveying standards of practice or minimum technical standards are illegal. I have to disagree. These standards are a valuable tool that protects the public and provides punishment for surveyors who do not perform in a professional manner."

In “Florida’s illegal standards,” Lucas has suggested that surveying standards of practice or minimum technical standards are illegal. I have to disagree. These standards are a valuable tool that protects the public and provides punishment for surveyors who do not perform in a professional manner.

Those of us who have been around for a while remember the days when back corners (or setting corners at all) were optional. The type of corners set or even the dimensions shown on surveys were up to the surveyors to determine. The public did not have the protection from surveyors who did as little as possible and tried to hide their liability by producing a vague product that barely constituted the definition of a survey.

I agree with Mr. Lucas that surveyors do not have a law degree and have “little or no formal education on the laws of boundaries”. I also believe that it is not necessary for us to have a law degree. We are not “Judge and Jury” where boundaries are concerned, and we are not intended to be. Recent seminars and articles written by Mr. Lucas indicate that he would have us be the final word over all boundary issues. That no matter how poorly the original surveyor performed, we are to conform to his mistake and perpetuate his “original” boundary. It does not matter that this survey may affect adjacent properties’ titles and rights. I am not advocating moving the lines, but we do need to show where they are and where they are supposed to be so any title problems can be addressed.

Mr. Lucas is confused concerning the term “accuracy” and how it is used in the Florida Minimum Technical Standards. He repeatedly uses the term “accuracy” and “boundary” as if the standards are to accurately locate boundary work. Although that is the goal for every surveyor, the term “accuracy” is meant to define how the field work is performed, not how the surveyor determines boundaries. Nowhere in the Florida Minimum Standards does it state how we are to make our decisions-only how we are to collect our data and how we are to depict our survey.

I agree that a surveyor by these standards does not have to check the adjacent deeds. They are minimum standards, not maximum standards, so it is up to the surveyor to acquire enough data to ensure the survey is correct. The surveyor is licensed by the state to make these decisions, and minimum standards has nothing to do with the decision-making process. We surveyors are not attorneys and we certainly are not judges, but we do have the knowledge and experience to measure the physical location of existing boundary lines and depict how it relates to its deeded position. It is not our job to determine property rights, only to depict potential rights. Property rights are decided by the courts although our professional opinions may help the courts decide these rights.

Mr. Lucas also made the statement that “we are the only profession that has created a checklist to grade our work.” I did an internet search for “minimum standards” and “checklist” for attorneys and came up with so many examples that it made Mr. Lucas’s statement absurd. But then, that describes his whole article.

-- David D. Glaze, PSM, PLS, Florida


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