Surveryor's Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat are the duties of the Weber County Surveyor ?
Duties of the Surveyor
By Utah State Code 17-23, the County Surveyor's Office is responsible, in part, to:
- Keep records of all surveys performed by the Office of County Surveyor and to maintain a file of all submitted surveys of private surveyors as required by Utah Code 17-23-17.
The County Surveyor has many duties, one being that of Record Keeping. To a land surveyor records are probably more important than anything else he deals with when it comes to land boundaries. Without accurate and reliable records the surveyor finds the task of locating land boundaries a monumental undertaking. Records provide a means of reconstructing long standing boundaries and aid in the preservation of the peace of the community. Without which lines may have a tendency to shift over time from place to place, upsetting the peace of neighbors and even spawning unnecessary law suits. The professional surveyor must be well versed in records research as well as maintaining an extensive file of his own survey records. The county surveyor, by code, is charged with maintaining specific types of records for the benefit of the public and surveying community. The county surveyor is also directed by code to "...deliver a copy of any survey to any person or court requiring the survey after payment of the fee..." for making copies. This means that the public, not just surveyors, can obtain copies of any data that the office has in its records. The county surveyor is also required to make available his/her records to the public for inspection at no charge. Although the records are available to the general public many of them are of a technical nature and require the expertise of a surveyor to properly utilize them.
- Maintain files and records of surveys performed by the Surveyor's Office.
- Perform work by court order.
- Maintain, establish, re-establish and keep record of section corner monumentation.
The Utah Legislature has also enacted legislation that requires the County Surveyor to establish or re-establish corners of the public land survey system. There are three specific areas that are discussed in this section of Utah Code (Utah Code 17-23-16), each of which bring statutory law in compliance with case law. It is the duty of the County Surveyor's Office to maintain, establish, or re-establish corners of the public land survey system by written records, coordinates, surveys or other methods available to him. This task is large and exhausting and brings with it many facets of surveying expertise to properly complete. It is known throughout the surveying community that when an original government corner is, (1) found and (2) has been verified that where it has been found is the original position as set by the government, (3) that it has not been disturbed and/or moved from the place that the United States Government Surveyor set it, that position of the monument is the true and correct position of the section corner. Utah Code 17-23-16 (1) re-affirms this by making this fact statutory law. What is important to note is that any survey monument which claims to be the true position of the section corner must have a pedigree which documents that the original monument of the United States Government Survey was found at this precise location and has been perpetuated in the very same place that the government monument was originally set. This written pedigree is important to maintain in a location that is available to public and the private surveyor. This office maintains a corner record file which has all the available information pertaining to each government monument which we have knowledge of. Unfortunately, not all of the current monuments have a verifiable pedigree this situation can cause the surveying community additional work and effort to perform a boundary survey which will correctly identify the boundaries of public and private property. Utah Code 17-23-16 (2) and (3) re-affirms another principle which has been well established in case law around the nation. That is, when a monument of the original government survey is missing it "shall be reestablished at the point where existing evidence would indicate the original corner was located". The process to insure that this requirement is complied with is a costly and time consuming process and is worked on constantly by this office to check and/or correct the positions of county monuments so that they comply with this requirement. The process may require that several sections (square miles) may need to be surveyed, and numerous deed records evaluated.
Funding for this work was established under the authority of Utah Code 17-23-19. This code gives the county legislative body the ability to pass an ordinance which would place the fees collected from survey filings into this fund for the establishment, reestablishment, and maintenance of the county survey monumentation system. The Weber County Commission enabled this fund under the tenure of Martin Moore.
It is a crime to willfully remove, disturb, deface, or destroy a government monument or corner. Utah Code 17-23-15 establishes this as a class C misdemeanor and places additional penalties for a conviction where a person is found in violation of this act. If development or construction activities would place a county monument or corner in jeopardy of being disturbed the County Surveyor must be notified with enough advance notice that he may take the necessary steps to preserve the location of the monument in a manner that will satisfy as best possible the preservation requirements with the least interference with the beneficial use and enjoyment of the land owner. The County Attorney's Office has handled cases of this type when it has become necessary prosecute or collect charges for the damages to these monuments. The preservation of these control monuments is of utmost importance to every citizen of the county. These positions preserve the correct location of property lines and road rights-of-way. Without reliable corners many law suits have been entered into, costing the individuals involved countless thousands of dollars to defend their property.
- Establish geographic coordinates on monuments which have a spatial relationship to an official government corner.
One of the main duties of the County Surveyor's Office is to be the guardian, if you will, of the public land survey system. In addition to the preservation of government survey monuments a part of this preservation is the establishment of coordinate values at each monument location in such a manner that the position of the monument can be replaced and preserved if it should become damaged or obliterated in some way. An additional responsibility recently assigned to this office by the legislature under Utah Code 17-23-1 (3) (a) (vii) the County Surveyors Office is responsible to "verify the correctness of or establish correct coordinates for ... monuments ... which have a spatial relationship with any section or quarter section corner; ...", in complying with this mandate this office has been using G.P.S. technology to place coordinates on triangulation stations, section corner, street monuments, bench marks and other pertinent corners as time and resources permit. Weber County utilizes the newest G.P.S. satellite technology to establish X, Y, and Z coordinate values which the private sector as well as other government agencies can utilize in their surveys. This is being done in an effort to bring a single basis of bearing to all surveys performed in the county. As a single basis is utilized it will help to bring uniformity to the county ownership records which, over time, will help to improve the accuracy of these records.
Can private property be surveyed by the County Surveyor?
No. The County Surveyor's Office is generally restricted from performing surveys for the private sector, with a few exceptions that being the result of a County Commission request, or Court order. However, if it is necessary to survey private property in connection with and required to complete a specific project that the County Surveyor's Office is engaged in it would then be appropriate for the Office to do so.
The duties of the County Surveyor is legislated in Utah Code 17-23.
Where can I get a copy of my property description?
Your yearly tax notice will provide you with the document reference such as a book and page number or entry number of your recorded deed. The description on the tax notice is Not your legal description. This is a description which has been transcribed or created by the office of the County Recorder for tax purposes only and may or may not be an accurate reflection of your legal description or ownership.
A copy of your legal description can, however, be obtained from the County Recorder's Office. If you are not very specific about the request of what document you are asking for the copy that you get from the Recorder's Office may be a copy of the original deed document (which will contain your legal description) or it may simply be a printout of the description which is being used for tax purposes (which again may or may not be a duplication of your legal description). The original deed document for the property should be in the possession of the owner of the property or the mortgage company.
The description which is on your tax notice may be abbreviated or contain typographical errors, the Recorder's Office makes no warrantee or guarantee as to the accuracy of the tax description. The tax description is used as a mechanism for assessment of taxes by the County Assessor's Office and should Never be used in place of the recorded deed for any reason relating to the ownership of, title of, or boundaries of property.
Is a survey required by state law when property is sold ?
No, if you are not subdividing or adjusting your property boundaries. Although it is not a requirement of law in Utah, it is a requirement in many States and it is a good and wise thing to have done. Many times the survey can identify potential problems with the property which could affect the value of the land, and/or any structures with respect to the property boundaries and their compliance with zoning laws and requirments. It is not as uncommon as one might believe to have a home built on the wrong lot, or too close the set back requirements. A survey can help give you peace of mind as you investigate a potential purchase of the property.
There have been circumstances that an individual will purchase a parcel of ground based on a description which is part of the public records beliving that they have purchased a legal building lot, only to find out that they have not and are not able to obtain a building permit. Illegal divisions of land (county code UC17-27a-605 (3) and city code UC 10-9a-605 (3)) are being recorded in the County Recorder's Office and is all too common. This can cause you frustration and difficulty in being able to get a permit to build or may cause you to lose your investment altogether.
Yes, if you are Subdividing1 or doing a Lot Line or Parcel Line Adjustment. The process of subdividing land requires plats to be prepared and certified by a licensed land surveyor 2. The State has given the Counties and Cities the legal authority to regulate the division of land within it's boundaries3, as a result Weber County has adopted, and over the years modified, a subdivision ordinance4 which the subdivider (property owner, developer, etc.) and surveyor must comply with in addition to the State laws, to legally divide land.
If you have any questions regarding the subdivision of land you can contact the Weber County Planning Department and they can assist you with your questions.