Editor's Points: Surveyors support public awareness and advocacy
In an earlier column or two, I commented about a neighbor who planned to start building a fence that would border the north side of my lot. I had asked if he had a survey (knowing he didn’t) and pointed out a survey was cheaper than moving a fence that was built in the wrong place.
I had decided that if he wasn’t going to get a survey I would, and I’d protect us both from issues on our shared boundary. He started building his fence and then one day I saw a surveyor in his yard. It wasn’t my guy, so he had heard me and did the right thing. Unfortunately, the survey showed the fence he built on the other side of his property was on the neighbor’s lot. Building along our shared property line followed the surveyed boundary and, as I was moving out, I saw he was taking down the other section of fence and moving it.
Then I got a letter from the zoning board in my new community that a neighbor planned to raze a building and divide a parcel into three parcels to build new homes. So, I’m not completely unpacked, but here I am sitting in a zoning board meeting.
As a new homeowner, I was curious about the plans and how they might affect my own property values. But, when I heard the architect presenting the “conceptual” plans point out that the lot size he found “on the Web” was nearly 8,000 square feet different from the number the zoning board quoted, I double underlined my note about asking them about the survey of the property.
The owner/builder sounds like he has positive plans for the property, and the neighbors seem satisfied (me included). I don’t know whether it was my question about the survey, but the zoning board tabled approval of the division of the parcel until a survey is completed.
When I got home, my wife asked if I was the “hated neighbor.” My only thought was that there were land management and property rights issues that should be addressed, and they were being addressed.
As I worked on the piece about the MAPPS anniversary, I could only say that advocacy doesn’t take a holiday. MAPPS has been doing what I was doing, but on a much larger and more significant scale. I was raising issues on behalf of myself and my neighbors. The advocacy MAPPS performs serves the surveying and geospatial professions and very often also benefits or supports efforts of “neighbor” professions and trade associations. When MAPPS joins a position on Qualification Based Selection in government contracts or works for the rules supporting commercial use of UAVs, there are many beneficiaries.
Adopting a view that many hands make light work, MAPPS also helps train advocates, in part, through its Federal Programs Conference which precedes member visits to Congress each Spring. The message is that it is not enough to have a good, strong association staff representing the profession before legislators and regulators, the entire profession needs to engage.
There’s a role for everyone, whether it is sitting in a local zoning meeting, joining the local professional chapter’s efforts, meeting with your congressional representatives in their home district or their Washington office, or testifying before a Senate committee. The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone; there is plenty of support available if you just ask for it.