Surveyor's Comments - 2007

Items of interest

December 21, 2007

My first announcement will be good news to all of you who submit plats for filing in my office and recording in our Recorder's Office.  Starting the first of the year, January 1, 2008, you will not have to submit an exact copy of your mylar.  We will accept one mylar.  For those plats that are currently being processed, the copy with the required copy statement, will be disposed of if the plat goes to recording after January 1, 2008.

Not to get into a lot of detail, but for those that are interested, the plan is that following recordation a full-scale photocopy of the plat will be made immediately for the Recording Office.  The mylar will then be placed in the vault in the County Surveyor's Office.  There will be a scanned image made available on line within a few days of recordation.  Whenever statutorily required notations are made on the mylar, in my office, it will be rescanned.  The web site will always have the most current image.

My second announcement is by no means bad news but I do have some concern as to the quality of the media we will be archiving in my vault.  Starting at the first of the year, we will not longer require ink jet statements on surveys and plats.  You may choose to identify the mylar and ink combination used but we no longer require it.  Some of you may be aware that the OACES web site no longer has a list of approved media/ink combinations.  The site directs you to ORS 92 which in part states "...the characteristics of strength and permanency required by the county clerk and county surveyor...".

This leads to the question; what is acceptable?  Photo mylars that were acceptable before will continue to be accepted.  We will continue to accept the media/ink combinations approved by and previously listed on the OACES web site.  These are good places to start but as a practical matter, Washington County will require that plats be printed on polyester film ("mylar") with a permanent ink that cannot smear or rub off.

 My concern as to the quality of the products that may be submitted stems from my office being put in a position to try and determine the permanency of the materials submitted.  If in doubt I will err on the side of caution and reject anything that can be smeared or appears that it may transfer to the other maps when stored in the vault.  I am relying on the surveyor's submitting surveys and plats to my office to make every effort to protect the existing records and insure the permanency of their work.  These are not the County Surveyor's records, they belong to the public.  For Professional Land Surveyors the ownership goes beyond being members of the public, in many ways our professional livelihood is based on the ability to access and review these records.

I will follow up with more information later but I wanted to get this out now so everyone would know about the change in submittal requirements before it becomes effective.

I wish you well in the coming new year,
Jim Elam

Items of interest

August 17, 2007

The 07-08 fees have been in place for about a month and a half now and in case you haven't noticed we did not change them; so it's good news; no increases this year. In fact we lowered our Public Land Corner fee that is collected by the recorders office on all documents related to real property transactions. It had been $6 per document for several years; it is now $5. Our Public Land Corner fund had a healthy balance and I don't anticipate any trouble continuing on our present work plan with the reduced fee.

It has been and will continue to be the policy of this office that offset monuments need to be preapproved. In some cases we may find that it would be more appropriate to post monument the plat. An example would be when the monument falls in a proposed sidewalk that has not been constructed. We may require that the monumentation be delayed until the sidewalk is constructed and then set brass/copper disks. Another alternative in this example would be to offset the point to the curb, assuming the curb is constructed and the offsets would be a uniform distance.

In August of 2005, I announced that we would accept the Berntsen "Survey Mark (BP1 or BP2)" as an alternate monument when setting the statutorily required type of monument is impracticable. Other equivalent monuments may be used only when individually, specifically approved. I made this effort to preapprove an alternate monument because the increasing complexity of many developments made it impossible to set the required monuments. I did not address the use of offset monuments at that time.

I recognize that it is increasingly common that the traffic lanes, sidewalks, and utilities are crowed into easements and narrow private streets. Often it seems that an offset will be required in conjunction with an alternate monument in order to insure the project is properly monumented and that the monuments will not be subject to destruction. An example is offsetting out to the curb, on the property line, and setting a brass or copper disk. On occasion we receive a record of survey or plat that indicates offsets were used and we evaluate the need for the offset at that time. Usually we agree that the offset is an acceptable solution but that is not always the case. This can be a problem for the surveyor that has already set the monuments on offsets; the inconvenience of changing them is not a valid reason for our approval of them.

My goal is to insure that the required monuments are set and that they remain in place for the use of the buyer of the lot or parcel. I understand the need to work cooperatively with the surveyors, engineers, and developers toward this goal and am receptive to creative solutions to problems. I hope that this discussion will help clarify what we are expecting. The prudent thing to do is to present your solution before the monuments are set; you may not like the answer but at least you will know what's acceptable before the monuments are set. In simple cases my staff may be able to give approval over the phone. In complex situations requiring a number of different offsets, we will want to see an exhibit depicting the situation before we consider granting approval.

"Utility infrastructure may not be placed within one foot of a survey monument location noted on a subdivision or partition plat." This is the language that was included in HB 2713 and will become part of ORS 92 at the beginning of 2008. This may provide some additional leverage for the surveyors struggling to properly monument their projects. I have met with the County Surveyors in Clackamas and Multnomah counties to discuss the problems we see private surveyors having with these issues. Chuck Pearson is working to arrange a meeting with the Metropolitan Utility Coordinating Council. I hope that starting a dialogue between the metro area County Surveyors and the utility stakeholders will result in an opportunity for positive steps in coordinating and sharing the limited space in new development projects.

When there is any dedication of land to public purposes in a plat, lenders will be required to sign the declaration or record an affidavit of consent. There have been situations where the consent is difficult to obtain and I have been asked to waive the requirement. This is required by statute and I do not have authority to waive it.

The Washington County Bench Marks are on NGVD 29. This is one of our most common questions so this information is also being placed in the Bench Mark search area in iSpirits. If you are working on a project that will at some point result in engineering plans being submitted to Washington County for review, be sure your vertical datum is directly related to one of the bench marks shown in iSpirits. Our engineering section will not accept GPS derived elevations or other datum's.

Notary requirements on plats. This information is now shown on our web site.