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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011

    Default Overlapping Surveys

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: Arkansas

    A new land plat of my area shows my house on a forty acres that is north of my forty. For twenty-five years, I have thought that my house was on the south forty. After going to the court house and finding that there was no budging on their part, I had a new survey done this year. There was a previous survey in 1989, and it is this survey that we used to build the house. (My son owns the north forty and I own the least that is what I thought.) The new survey shows two boundary lines that overlap. The first line is the one that we had seen on the old survey and had used to build our house. The new survey shows the boundary going right through the middle of my house...thus putting some parts of my house, my carpot, my shed, and my barn smack in the middle of the overlap. The assessor says that there cannot be an overlap...has never seen one and also no one that he has talked to has ever seen one. (The overlap is about 117 feet.) For one thing, the court house is concerned that one of the parcels won't be forty acres, but 35.9 acres which cannot be as all parcels are forty acres. My surveyor says that this is an overlap and it is what it is. He put my boundary on the old line, the one we used to build the house, so that my house is not in the overlap. I want my son to have his forty free and clear, while my forty with the house has a mortgage. If we combine the two forty's, then he will not have his forty due to the mortgage. I am told that this problem is going to throw off the whole section..and maybe the Louisianna Purchase from which all the parcels and sections were developed. (What a burden!) I do not care which parcel my house is on..the north or south. I only want to know where my house is and to have an airtight legal deed to the well as have the adjoining forty free and clear for my son. My husband passed away in 2006, so I do not have him to provide any additional info as to boundary lines, etc. I am thinking of having another boundary line drawn well below my house and adding it to the north forty so that there will be no question as to where the house is or where the boundary is. I would appreciate any input as to this problem.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Default Re: Overlapping Surveys

    I'll try to offer a little insight, but I'm a "colonial surveyor", whereas you are in a PLSS state. (Public Land Surveying System.) But I do know a couple of things.

    You are more than likely are the owner of a "quarter quarter section." In other words, a section is 640 acres. One quarter of a section is 160 acres, and one quarter of that is 40 acres. But these are known as "nominal areas", or for the benefit of the layman, they are 40 acres in name only. They are nominal because of the nature of measurement - 100 surveyors could measure a piece of land using the exact same methodology and they will come up with 100 different acreages.

    So while your parcel being 35.9 acres versus 40 acres is an extreme example of this, it is not unheard of. And as I stated before, there will always be differences. It is partially because of these differences that the PLSS was created. Our forefathers knew that the nature of measurement was flawed, and so over time a set of "rules of construction" were put in place to guide surveyors on the correct and most equitable manner to resolve boundaries.

    I have heard of some horror stories where a federal government survey is performed, section lines are altered, and people's lands are thrown into turmoil. Is this possibly where the overlap comes from and what you mean when you say that the courthouse won't "budge?" As for the assessor, just because he hasn't seen one doesn't mean they can't happen. The overlap could be a case of the feds altering the bound, yet you as the bona fide owner have your private boundary in a separate location from the section line. An expert in the PLSS may be able to speak to that issue better than I, however.

    You should know that since you have been occupying the property for 25 years, with no foreknowledge that you were encroaching, you more than likely already own to the line you always thought was yours by adverse possession, acquiesence or similar doctrines.

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007

    Default Re: Overlapping Surveys

    A new land plat of my area shows my house on a forty acres that is north of my forty.
    Can you give us a more detailed description of where this "plat" originated? Was it a map created by a surveyor you hired? As you and your son own the adjoining parcels, did you both decide to have a survey done? Or did this originate somewhere else?

    There are instances when quarter-quarter sections do not equal exactly 40 acres but I do not want to begin speculating about that without knowing some more about how this new "plat" came to be. I have some suspicions but it would be premature for me to speculate.

    It sounds as if your surveyor has no problem with the actual dividing line, and his location is not the cause of the current problem. The Public Land Survey System mentioned by Newtons_Apple is well known to me and the system as it exists in Arkansas was put in place for the most part more than 150 years ago. It is highly unlikely that a section created in that time frame is going to be "upset" today by new mapping.

    If we remove, for the time being, the problem of the dividing line between yourself and your son, we are left with the acreage issue. I will be happy to address this issue, but anything you can add regarding the actual location of the parcels (county, range, township, section, from the deed) would be a great help in sorting this out.

    I suspect that your surveyor has already sorted it out correctly, but that there is other confusing information which has come from someone or somewhere else.

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