Jun 02, 2005
I’ve only recently starting working in Alaska and am somewhat suprised by the absence of the legal description on the face of plats here. The other states that I am licensed in require it and I believe that it is essential for subsequent surveys of lots within a plat (and especially those lots bordering the plat boundaries) to have the overall description readily available. I hope someone can give me a line of reasoning behind the omission of this information and any reasons that it would not be a good idea to include it.
Jun 02, 2005
That is a correct observation. Although all of my professional land survey work has been done in this state, here is my take on it:
In this state typically the parent parcel legal descriptions for subdivisions are normally in the recorded plat title block. Since we are a PLSS state, and a young state where most subdivisions are first or second in chain of title from the original federal patent, more often than not the parent parcel starts with the description founded in the PLSS, other federal land description system (U.S. Survey, Townsite, 14-C parcel, etc.), or prior subdivision Lot/Block/Tract/Subdivision description. For example, if the NW1/4 of Section 13, T. 12 N., R. 3 W., Some Meridian…is the parent parcel, it is easily described in a aliquot description. If the subdivision parent parcel is a prior platted parcel, like Tract B-1, Sunnyside Acres Subdivision, Plat 98-98, Some Recording District… that is a full and adequate parent parcel description that can be easily described in the title block. The State Recorder, and the governing platting authority reviews normally check for an adequate description of the parent parcel. Subdivision by metes and bounds is not legal under the platting authority rules. Redescription of property that is most easily described in reference to the PLSS or by Tract/Lot/Block/Subdivision is redundant and not necessary or recommended.
For those who have worked in Metes-and-Bounds states, or those with many years of subdivision by deeds being legal, this seems odd. However, it works well as generally there has always been a platting requirement in most parts of the state since statehood, and now everywhere for the last few years. It is required to subdivide land in accordance with platting authority rules as there is a platting authority covering the entire state. There are a few exceptions, (like large parcels that can be subdivided into 5acre or larger aliquot parts in reference to the PLSS).
Good question and observation. If you have more questions or commentary, lets hear it. Thanks for chiming in on the ASPLS forum board, it has been pretty dead lately around here.
Michael Schoder, PLS
Jun 03, 2005
Thanks for the reply Michael, that makes sense that if there were never any land divisions by deed that there would be little need for a traditional legal description. Alaska is indeed unique (and fortunate) in this way.
Many (dare I say most) counties and municipalities outside Alaska do already, or are being forced to, allow land divisions by means other than platting. This is mostly due to high land value/increased development, and compounded by the dwindling number of surveyors, and the cost/time associated with platting. I imagine eventually, as we develop, Alaska too will be faced with a similar situation.
You’re also right that this is a slow forum, maybe I’ll post something incendiary to see if anyone’s awake.
Dec 01, 2005
A big reason for not including a long legal description on a plat, is that the legal description should be the same as the external boundary shown on the plat. If there is a drafting error (never happens with a computer???) then a plat can have two legals for the same piece of property - the bearing and distances on the drawing and again mabe different numbers in a long written legal. The drawing dimensions are more easily followed by the public and other surveyors and are perfectly legal on a recorded plat, so why gum up the works to have a typed paragraph, with the same information, on the plat.
George Strother, PE, PLS
NSPS Governor - Alaska
Tom Knox, P.L.S.
Jan 18, 2006
I am the Anchorage Municipal Surveyor and am tasked with reviewing all plats that are submitted to the Municipal Platting Authority for approval and acceptance for filing at the State Recorders Office. I have been performing this function for many years and have viewed many licensed professional surveyors’ work product. I believe I understand the reasoning behind our State Law that requires a plat to subdivide property for transfer by sale or development. The advice “keep it simple stupid” is very sound advice. One of the best ways for a property owner to show his/her/their intent when dividing property is to reduce it to an accurate drawing for others to interpret in the future. Words alone or included on the plat can conjure up many different interpretations of someone’s intent. george is right on the money when he states that mistakes happen and when they do they have to addressed. The plat legal description, reduced to its simplest form and fortified by a drawing representing the description will aid in elimination of costly and time consuming arguments between attorneys at a later date over a bounday dispute.