Professional Topography
May 2009

I enjoyed Dr. Paiva’s article tremendously. One can only imagine the success we would all enjoy if each professional would undertake just one task. Our burdens would indeed be light and all our corners in clear pastures. Sometimes I believe we are our own worst enemy.

Christopher M. Wickern, PLS, RLS, CFedS

Traversing the Law
May 2009

Just received my May 2009 POB. The article by Mr. Lucas, “Missing the mark,” is the same as his others--always entertaining and sometimes informative. In this case, when discussing the merits of accuracy and precision, he relies on Wikipedia, which is stated to be neither accurate nor precise. He compares surveyors to “sinners.” When I read that Book, it didn’t exclude “casting the first stone”!! Mr. Lucas, your story, should have been titled “Missing the point” or simply, “Duck”!

Dale Hult, PLS

In “Missing the mark,” there is “missing the association.” Words have meanings, connotations and associations. In Lucas’ column, an attempt is made to change a popular and conventional association.

Webster’s Dictionary defines accuracy as: 1) freedom from mistake or error: correctness; 2a) conformity to truth or to a standard or model: exactness; 2b) degree of conformity of a measure to a standard or true value. In a discussion, whether among surveyors or lay people, if “accurate survey” is mentioned, thought immediately moves to measurement accuracy, not to survey correctness nor to Webster’s definitions 1 or 2a. Only in the article “Missing the mark” is an “accurate survey” associated with what could or should be called a correct survey.

The article presents a good point with which I agree: Precise and accurate measurements do not a correct survey make. Unfortuantely, a different choice of words should have been used to convey this concept. An accurate survey should not be associated with a correct survey and vice versa unless warranted. It is possible to have an accurate survey that is not correct. Too, it is possible to have a correct survey that is not accurate. In the best of situations, a survey would be both correct and accurate!

Maurice L. Schumann

I find this as well as other of Mr. Lucas’ articles very timely. Regardless of the geographic area we practice in, certain problems still occur.

In the area I practice land surveying, there are many DLCs [donation land claims]. The properties and plats that have been recorded rely on metes and bounds descriptions. This area was surveyed by the GLO [General Land Office] much later than the DLCs, and some plats were made and proved upon. Consequently, the later surveys rely on electronic [tools] when the original plats and properties were surveyed with a 100-foot tape and a one-minute instrument or compass. Stone monuments were placed for plat and DLC corners and were later tied in by the GLO.

The problem occurring is the very precise foot being measured and an angle measured to seconds of a degree. Some monumentation has been destroyed and/or replaced through improvements. Replacing the monument is accomplished with considerable precision; however, little analysis has been utilized regarding the found monuments. If the monument is not of the original material, it must have been replaced. Unfortunately, the case is [usually] that the monument being replaced was out of position due to poor wing ties and a very precise foot and angle being measured without regard for the original methods. The resulting errors have provided overlaps and gaps of property boundaries and, worse, old buildings now are encroaching. Also, old roadway locations are improperly located by ignoring the original road establishments or not knowing how to analyze them.

It is these methods used today and poor analysis of monumentation and roadway location that is contributing to multiple corners, improper boundary location and encroachments. Unfortunately, this information is not being taught in school or passed on by the senior PLS.

George L. Wilkinson, PLS

Traversing the Law
June 2009

In “Traversing the Law, Florida’s illegal standards,” Jeff 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 punishments for surveyors who do not perform in a professional manner.

Those of us that have been around for a while remember the days when back corners (or setting corners at all) were optional. The types 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 fieldwork is performed, not how the surveyor determines boundaries. Nowhere in the Florida minimum standards do they 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 have 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 an existing boundary line 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

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