Measurements versus Monuments

One of the more interesting effects of transitioning the way in which you manage your land records into the ESRI ArcGIS Parcel Editing Solution (the Parcel Fabric) is the transition from mapping parcels according to the measurements listed in the legal descriptions to mapping parcels according to the monuments called out in those legal descriptions.

Traditionally, and I am not sure whether this is the result of the limited data structures or just a misunderstanding into legal description interpretation, but, most mappers input the bearings and distances cited in the legal descriptions with little attention being paid to the accompanying monument calls.  You know.... "thence along the North right of way line" or "to the southeast corner of Lot 47" or "47.08 feet from the Northwest Section corner."

These calls, while they appear to be minor in nature, are actually more important that the actual measurements in the legal description.  For example, if a course is described as "thence North 26 degrees 15 minutes 26 seconds East, for a distance of 100 feet to the southeast corner of Lot 47", even if the actual bearing and distance to the southeast corner of Lot 47 is North 30 degrees East, a distance of 105 feet to the monument found located on the southeast corner of Lot 47, the property corner is the southeast corner of Lot 47 and the location of the monument supersedes the measurement called in the description and should be used for mapping.

These calls are commonly referred to as "monuments" and can exist in many forms: They can be natural monuments such as trees, streams, and lakes) or artificial monuments such as fences, walls, roads, streets or railroads. They can also be monuments described as the boundaries of adjacent parcels of land. The exact location of these monuments is considered "superior" to and carries a great deal of strength in determining the location of any specific corner, especially if that monument is called out in the legal description. 

Just a short note, for the monument call to be valid, it must be included in the legal description itself and cannot be inferred.

Monuments in the ArcGIS Parcel Editing Solution (the Parcel Fabric)

The Parcel Fabric is designed to enforce the manner in which the corner locations are defined, allowing the mapper to input the bearings and distances as cited in the description, but also locating the parcel corners on the existing mapped corners or "monuments".  This is accomplished using the "join" function inside the Parcel Fabric.  This "join" function allows the Parcel Fabric to locate a parcel corner so it is contiguous to and "along the right of way" or located at the "South East corner of Lot 47" or at "Section Corner" while maintaining the measurement information found in the source legal description.

This one function changes the way in which we handle the various inconsistencies contained in the legal descriptions, whether these inconsistencies are caused by differences in the precision of the measuring standards, differences in opinions of the locations of other monuments or improperly written deeds.  The "joining" functions allows us to analyze and map the "intent" of the description without being fixated on the measurements contained within. In my opinion, the one change is powerful and should be sufficient enough to convince us to begin managing our land records and parcel information in this new way.

I would be interested in hearing your views below.