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2021 Texas RPLS exam

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Thomas mcintyre
(@thomas-mcintyre)
FNG Member

I'm getting ready for this October exam for the Texas RPLS. My question is, how much weight do yall put in witness trees to replace corners?

I have done quite a few sample analytical questions and in each one I have chosen to replace a corner by witness trees.

 

I participate in a couple study groups and there are differing opinions regarding the weight I tend to put in the trees.

 

Would like to hear more opinions. Granted yall dont know the sue of all evidence presented or what was available for the determination. Would just like input as a general rule.

 

Thanks in advance.

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Topic starter Posted : September 25, 2021 5:34 pm
Brad Ott liked
Shawn Billings
(@shawn-billings)
1,000+ posts Vendor

It's been a long time since I took the RPLS exam in Texas, but I would look a little deeper at a question that asks which piece of information to use for reconstructing a corner. I would be looking for this: is the question actually looking for Jr./Sr. rights and original intent (a legal question) and mentioning the witness tree as a possible solution (technical question) is a distraction. So if you find that the corner solution using the witness tree doesn't land on the senior line, then it's not the right answer. 

 

I don't know that a witness tree has any more or less weight than any other monument in the comparative dignity of calls. The only exception to that being the debate over whether a witness tree is a natural monument or an artificial monument. Hopefully the testing committee isn't being that nuanced with the question.

 

As a practical matter, I would use a witness tree to reconstruct a boundary corner if that seemed to produce the most accurate reconstruction. For example, if I'm following a survey from the 1930's of a large tract of land and reconstructing the corner from other corners would be +/- several feet based on the accuracy of the other calls, or I can put the corner in by the witness tree within a few tenths of a foot, I will use the witness tree because it is likely closer to the original location of the missing monument. If I'm following a modern survey done by total station and all of the boundary calls are within a few hundredths of a foot and reproducing the corner from the witness trees is +/- several tenths of a foot, I would use the boundary calls for the same reason.

 

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Posted : September 26, 2021 5:21 am
Shawn Billings
(@shawn-billings)
1,000+ posts Vendor
Posted by: @shawn-billings

I don't know that a witness tree has any more or less weight than any other monument in the comparative dignity of calls. The only exception to that being the debate over whether a witness tree is a natural monument or an artificial monument. Hopefully the testing committee isn't being that nuanced with the question.

If this is the aim of the question, I think the prevailing opinion on this is that a marked tree becomes an artificial monument. So if you have a choice between a natural monument, rock out-crop, spring, etc. and the witness tree, then the natural monument would prevail.

 

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Posted : September 26, 2021 5:24 am

Shawn Billings
(@shawn-billings)
1,000+ posts Vendor

Remember that every question is designed to test a principle. When should you prorate? When should you hold one call over another? What's the ethical response to this situation? If you can identify the principle they're trying to test you on, then the answer becomes more clear. 

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Posted : September 26, 2021 5:26 am
Thomas mcintyre
(@thomas-mcintyre)
FNG Member

@shawn-billings 

Thank you for the response. Whether deemed artificial or natural (monument) that tree (from my understanding) would trump course and distance in their relative dignity  (using bearing bearing intersect was the prevailing opinion as to solution).

The corner call was described as being in the east line of a senior survey (no conflict exists) where a creek intersects the line running southeast. Deed calls for a point from which a lone 20 inch walnut bears due south 18 vrs. 

Some said the intersection of the east line of senior grant at the point where creek crosses the line would be corner. There was no information given to locate the creek what-so-ever. And no way to re-create that corner.

In the data dump, the description of the walnut stump that was located, was said to have been the oy walnut in the area. So for me is seemed to be a straight forward decision.

With differing opinions, and with how important passing this exam is to me. I just want to make sure that I am looking at EVERYTHING, and not merely over looking some other fact that may bear weight.

 

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Topic starter Posted : September 26, 2021 7:20 am
Brad Ott liked
Shawn Billings
(@shawn-billings)
1,000+ posts Vendor

What you've mentioned certainly seems to line up with what I was thinking the examiners are after. They want to know that you know the dignity of calls. 

Keep in mind your dignity of calls:

Intent

Senior rights

Natural monuments (in their original undisturbed location*)

Artificial monuments (in their original undisturbed location)

calls for course (bearings)

calls for distance

calls for acreage

calls for coordinates

* in the case of a riparian boundary, the location may change and still be the boundary provided it was a slow gradual change and not caused by an avulsion.

(I'm sure someone will correct me if I've missed something)

In the example given, first, you've got a senior boundary. That will establish one line. Then you have the creek, which is a natural boundary, and I would argue it also represents the clear intent if it was called to be the boundary in the original deed. If there is no evidence of an avulsion, then the boundary line would be fixed by the creek, even if the distance to the witness tree does not match the deed call. The corner will be at the intersection of the senior line and the creek. With the senior line and the creek you have covered the top three elements in the dignity of calls (intent, senior rights, natural monuments). This is survey nirvana. The witness tree, marked as it is, would be an artificial monument, and since it isn't the corner, it also relies on a call for course and distance to get to the corner (these are 3, 4, and 5, on the list).

 

 

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Posted : September 27, 2021 2:25 pm
FairleyWell, Glenn Breysacher, Lurker and 1 people liked

Jitterboogie
(@jitterboogie)
1,000+ posts Supporter

@shawn-billings

 

School is In Session! Hell yeah!  This is all great stuff for my Boundary Class, and definitely not as boring as reading Browns...

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Posted : September 27, 2021 2:33 pm
Andy Nold
(@andy-nold)
1,000+ posts Supporter

I would agree with Ken Gold (Decisions) that a tree is a natural monument and I would certainly give it due consideration if such a called for witness tree appeared on a question ( and reasonably matches the description+growth over time). And definitely hold over called distance or bearing.

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Posted : September 27, 2021 3:17 pm
David Kendall
(@david-kendall)
100+ posts Member
Posted by: @shawn-billings

The corner will be at the intersection of the senior line and the creek

Creeks move.  Hold the creek, intersect the line.  Hopefully the angle is close to 90 or you might get some dramatic results.  In that case I might reconsider the tree

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Posted : September 29, 2021 9:40 am

aliquot
(@aliquot)
1,000+ posts Member

@shawn-billings 

Using distances and bearings over a monument (witness tree) is exactly what the courts tell us not to do. 

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Posted : September 29, 2021 2:43 pm
Shawn Billings
(@shawn-billings)
1,000+ posts Vendor

@aliquot 

I didn't suggest using bearings and distances over a monument, I suggest using the superior calls: senior line and the creek. The creek is a monument, by the way. From the question, as presented, the examiners have not given us the information to know how the senior line was defined, only that it is the senior line. In this case, we know the location of the senior line, then it removes debate on if we actually have the senior line. The question says that we do. The senior line would prevail then.

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Posted : October 2, 2021 9:37 am
Shawn Billings
(@shawn-billings)
1,000+ posts Vendor

"The corner call was described as being in the east line of a senior survey (no conflict exists) where a creek intersects the line running southeast. "

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Posted : October 2, 2021 9:38 am

Thomas mcintyre
(@thomas-mcintyre)
FNG Member

@shawn-billings thanks for all the feedback. 4 days out from the exam now. Feeling pretty good if only my 35s would quit giving me fatal error when calculating area! Mr Billings, found some of your caps in Harrison county recent. It's out of a 173 +/- acre partition. Parent tract lines are wonky...hell all the tracts are wonky. Solved the tract that adjoins the one you surveyed, would like to pick your brain about a tract a bit further south in that particular partition if you are so inclined. I am from the houston area and Harrison county I am not that familiar with.

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Topic starter Posted : October 18, 2021 2:48 pm
Shawn Billings
(@shawn-billings)
1,000+ posts Vendor
  • @thomas-mcintyre I'll be on the road tomorrow all day if you would like to give me a call. 903.985.0102
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Posted : October 18, 2021 8:56 pm
Brad Ott liked
aliquot
(@aliquot)
1,000+ posts Member
Posted by: @shawn-billings

@aliquot 

I didn't suggest using bearings and distances over a monument, I suggest using the superior calls: senior line and the creek. The creek is a monument, by the way. From the question, as presented, the examiners have not given us the information to know how the senior line was defined, only that it is the senior line. In this case, we know the location of the senior line, then it removes debate on if we actually have the senior line. The question says that we do. The senior line would prevail then.

What do you mean by "intersect the line"? Although Texas can be an outlier, in general principles of equity hold for riparian boundaries, therfore a riparian corner is only at the intersection of the senior line and the riparian body if the parcel in question has been eroded or the accreted position of the river is close to parallel with the original location. 

Courts in most states frown at giving  landowners a windfall at the expense of their neighbors for the sake of surveyors love of straight lines. 

This post was modified 1 month ago by aliquot
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Posted : October 25, 2021 2:07 pm

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