Letters to the Editor

I Didn’t Like That

Regarding “You Won’t Like This” (October 2010, Page 28) the title was certainly appropriate. He was right, I didn’t like it. The title intrigued me, and it was the first article I read in the October 2010 issue. While I understand the general premise of his commentary, I am loath to let his conclusion(s) go without response. Let me, if I may, take issue with him on several of his points.

There are absolutely boundaries within the geospatial profession. I work with a wide variety of geospatial professionals, few if any who consider themselves land surveyors. Point in fact: many of my closest friends in the GIS community call me for advice and consultations in potential boundary issues. Based upon Mr. Butler’s argument, one could extrapolate that a heart surgeon and a podiatrist are indistinguishable. After all, they are both part of the medical profession. How about the pilot of a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and the pilot of a Beech Bonanza? No difference really, they are both pilots, right?

Tired old argument about “public welfare and safety”? “GIS providers and users make many more decisions that affect the public than do surveyors.” Poppycock! Every individual or business relies on boundary surveys for their property limits. Boundary lines, title lines, deed lines … these are important things. Millions of dollars have been spent over the last century and more litigating boundaries, sometimes over very small areas of land. Should land surveyors be licensed and regulated? Indeed they should be. I have seen plenty of mistakes with GPS maps, weather forecasting maps and crime scene maps. I would even wager some of the Predator drones don’t always find their mark. That’s OK, I don’t really rely heavily on any of that information and neither do the courts. Rarely is the case where boundary litigation depends on a shape file, and the last time I checked meteorologists weren’t classified as land surveyors.

Pure science and math? I wish that were the case. An informal poll conducted by me of several highly experienced local land surveyors revealed the opinion that the mathematics of land surveying, while important in establishing facts, plays only a limited percentage of the overall boundary resolution of any survey. Far more importance is placed upon deed interpretation, occupation on the ground, determination of original monumentation and legal principles.

It is my observation that a building contractor licensed in Florida has got little or nothing to do with the land surveying profession. The point of this example is dull and askew, not to mention annoying.

“The surveying profession as it was defined 20 years ago is gone.” What? That’s news to me and would be too many of my clients. You see, my clients don’t hire me to simply go measure things. They hire me to determine boundaries. They hire me, and not a GIS professional, because I have specific knowledge about matters such as prescriptive rights, adverse possession (limitation), acquiescence, common reputation, easements appurtenant and gross, estoppel, junior/senior rights, and simultaneous conveyances. They expect me to advise them on littoral/riparian rights and boundary law applicable to their specific project, and, since I’m from Texas, they expect me to be an expert in such matters as the gradient boundary, the relinquishment act, vacancies, and excess acreage/deeds of acquittance….

It is certainly true that almost anyone can measure a line now, even though a line is only one component of a boundary. And even though they can measure such a line with a variety of tools ranging from a yardstick to a handheld GPS, what about the concept of accuracy and precision? What is the application? As to boundaries, how about the monumentation, is it original, perpetuated or obliterated? How about applicable case and statute law? How about deed interpretation? How about the evidence revealed in historical maps which haven’t been uncovered in decades? How about relevant and admissible parole evidence? How about the most basic of land law fundamentals: “Where boundaries are is a matter of fact, what boundaries are is a matter of law”?

I just received the November issue of Professional Surveyor. I was surprised to see only one letter to the editor in connection with Mr. Butler’s article, and it was a positive one! Insightful was the phrase I believe that writer used. Insightful? I suppose it’s all in the point of view.

Michael Hoover, RPLS, CFM
Houston, TX

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Problem #208

I am a retired Professional Land Surveyor and find your problems in Professional Surveyor Magazine interesting and challenging. I completed problem 208 and gave 12 acres each to Kelly, Karen and Kathy. Each parcel was divided to the centerline of the roads, which I left in the same location as shown in the problem.

I was confused by your solution as you show two north-south roads, CJ and C’J’. Kelly’s parcel should not have a road dividing it by the dotted road CJ. Maybe you did not intend that. However, my numbers are very close to yours, keeping the roads in place where designed and excluded from each parcel. Thanks for the problems; keep them coming!

Dan Lake, PE, PLS
Willow Street, PA

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The January issue feature “Rockin’ on the River” was written by Patrick Fuhrman, PLS. We regret the misspelling of the author’s last name.

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