Postcard from the Rockies
I occasionally get a moment that makes me cry, but would be enjoyed by my colleagues. I hope its ok to post an occasional postcard from my duty as a county surveyor. It is important to know that in Colorado, a county surveyor mostly does what he is told to do by the county commissioners or other county departments. I have no legal jurisdiction to decide on my own what needs to be done for my county. Sometimes my advise is respected since I am actually the only elected official that is licensed by the state. Usually, I enjoy the same universal degree of respect from my county commissioners whom authorize and fund my activities, that all surveyors get - which is based on the following principle:
"You surveyors may know how to make a precise measurement, but we elected commissioners and county personnel have college degrees which make US intelligent enough to be able to read the laws on property and understand development regulations".
I get about one call per day with legitimate questions about historical records or other types of matters that I know the answer to, for which I gladly answer to help my community at no charge. I do love my job, which for the most part is a non-funded position.
One such call came from my road and bridge department, to meet with a landowner who was disputing the location of a county road right of way. Arriving on the scene, I saw a newly built, 6 foot tall plank fence along the right of way, which was the common line to the north side of the landowners property, for the first 100 feet, then, a sharp, 45 degree angle in the fence, and the fence went to the roadway itself, and it was obvious that the landowner was going to build the fence diagonally across the county road.
the road and bridge super was there. the landowner explained that he was sure he was right because he had his land surveyed, and that the angle point was due "to a power pole along the highway right of way".
I told the landowner that there is no such thing as a power pole controlling land boundaries, and I was quite sure that no survey had been done making such a determination. I also showed the landowner the historical survey plat of his own property, which he had signed, which clearly showed the right of way being a straight line, and there was no power pole mentioned anywhere on the plat.
this 3 man squabble went on for about an hour. Finally, I explained that sir, I see that I am wasting your time. I set an approximate stake along the true right of way for the county to see - and left. In my report, I explained that the right of way line in that spot was consistent with the BASE LINE of the 6th Principal Meridian, and was in fact the first surveyed line through the Territory of Colorado, and was quite straight as near as may be.
the landowner hired another surveyor, who disagreed with my rough stake by about 2 inches. the county paid me for 1/2 my time which racked up to about 4 hours. the landowner never paid.
I love my job, too.
the landowner explained that he was sure he was right because he had his land surveyed
He hear this A LOT; but when I say, Great! Can I see a copy of this survey? I hear excuses; explaining why they can't do that. To which I respond; please let me know when you can...
People really do come up with some astoundingly bizarre ideas sometimes when it comes to property boundaries. What they want it to be MUST BE the truth no matter how much we attempt to educate them on the errors in their thinking.
Along a similar line are people who refuse to accept laws of nature. Many years ago I was involved in designing a small lake to be used for irrigating nearby cropland. The farmer did not want to give up much of the adjoining pasture land so he insisted that we build a dike nearly a half mile in length to keep the stored water from getting onto his pasture land. We had to explain that he would then have water ponding on the backside of the dike because the surface runoff above the dike would have no way to do anything else, especially during times of heavy precipitation. His solution was to design the dike such that water would run around the far end and into the lake area. He simply could not comprehend that water must run downhill.
The funny part Warren is that the state "pays" the county surveyor $3000.00 for the coverage of what in the real world would be a few orders of magnitude more for the knowledge skill and professional opinions.
County surveyors are truly working their avocation with deep intent beyond money and prestige.