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Four Key Components of a Community Comprehensive Plan

 

In order for a community to utilize their land productively and plan appropriately for future growth, it is imperative they have a comprehensive plan in place. As the old adage goes, failing to plan is tantamount to planning to fail.

 

A comprehensive plan, sometimes called a master plan, is an official document that outlines key uses, goals, and guides future decisions. A comprehensive plan gets everyone on the same page, keeps community leaders on track when decisions need to be made and provides businesses with the information they need to guide their decisions.

 

A comprehensive plan also shows prospective businesses and land developers who are considering engaging in the community where it has been and where it is going. There are several key components a comprehensive plan covers.

 

1. Provides Guidance for the Long Haul

 

Community officials, whether they are voted in or appointed, don't stay in office forever. A comprehensive plan provides future leaders with a clear vision to continue following after previous leaders have moved on.

 

2. Dictates How the Land Is Used

 

Land is used for several different activities in a community. A community must have clear land use zones in place. Some land is set aside for additional residential development. Some land may be set aside for agricultural use. Industrial parks where existing and new industry is placed is yet another land use need. Commercial land provides space for retail space and office buildings.

 

Recreational land, forested land, and wetlands are other examples of land use needs a community may have. Zoning laws are necessary in a community in order to preserve order and create a cohesive community where the needs of residents, industry, and nature are all taken into consideration.

 

Without zoning laws in place, a community can quickly become disjointed. A comprehensive plan dictates what goes where. For example, most people wouldn't want the town dump located in the middle of their subdivision, so a comprehensive plan would set this space on the outskirts of town or in an area zoned for industrial use.

 

3. Determines Infrastructure

 

Transportation routes must be carefully planned far in advance. It takes time to build roads. A community's transportation planning phase must take into account what the roads will be used for. For example, the transportation network that runs in and out of an industrial area must be built in such a way that it can accommodate the heavy traffic of semi-trucks constantly moving goods.

 

Roads and bridges must be able to accommodate the weight of semi-trucks. They must provide easy access to highways and interstates and not be routed through residential areas. Roads in agricultural zones must be able to accommodate heavy farm equipment. Residential roads must be carefully planned with safety paramount. 

 

Infrastructure planning must also take into account utilities such as the power supply, water and sewer, natural gas lines, and communication system. These utilities are a necessity, and the companies that provide these services must be aware of a community's future plans so they can plan accordingly for the upcoming increased needs.

 

4. Shapes a Community

 

How a community is laid out can dramatically affect the quality of life and the ease of doing business. For example, Phoenix is one of the best laid out cities in the world. Its streets run in a grid that is easy to navigate. It is aesthetically pleasing and easy to get around. Residents know what to expect and know how to find what they need.

 

In contrast, New York City is a logistical nightmare. Because it grew up so fast and urban planning wasn't a profession until early in the 20th century, it can be extremely confusing and difficult to navigate. A comprehensive plan will prevent this confusion from developing or continuing and provide a nice place to live and do business.

 

Communities who are looking to shape their future must have a comprehensive plan in place. This will provide them a clearly defined vision and prepare them for the inevitable changes that will come. Contact Community Sciences Corporation today to see how our land use analysis and strategic planning services can benefit your community.

Land Surveying: What to Expect

At one point or another, many people will have to go through the land surveying process. The most common time that this happens is when you're planning to buy or build a structure. Land surveyors are there to make sure the land is high-quality and stable and to protect your investment.

 

With that said, however, many people are nervous about the process and feel overwhelmed. One way to help ease your nerves a bit is by knowing what to expect during the land surveying process. And fortunately, as long as you hire a qualified company, you should be able to predict exactly how the surveying process will go.

 

Land Boundaries

One of the first jobs of a professional land surveyor is to determine the boundaries of your property. This means seeking out the exact point where your land stops and starts. This process is extremely helpful in avoiding litigation or issues with neighbors and just for your own knowledge and benefit.

 

There is a good chance that if you own the land already, you already have a property map laying out the land and what belongs to who. Have this map on hand so you can compare the results to the results your surveyor comes up with and settle any disputes before the surveying results are made official.

 

Documentation

When your land surveyor arrives, they will probably ask to see any documentation that you may have available related to your land.

 

This will likely include at least the following:

  • Documentation showing your exact address
  • Documentation that proves who the current landowner is
  • The PIN (personal identification number) of the property
  • The current deed
  • Any available maps, former deeds, or other documentation related to your property
  • Written authorization to survey the property

By gathering all of this documentation ahead of time, you can save yourself and your surveyor a lot of hassle. Having everything you need prepared and ready to go can prevent having to reschedule your land survey for later. If you have questions or are unsure of which exact documents you need, do not hesitate to ask the surveying company that you have hired.

 

Discussion

The best land surveying companies are not just going to come out and survey after you fill out a brief form on their website. Instead, good companies will take the time to get to know you and your needs. Be prepared to explain why you are having the surveying done, what you hope will come from it, and who you will need to share the results of the survey with.

 

This information sets the surveyor up to perform the correct type of survey, as well as to meet your exact needs and to provide the right documentation following the survey.

 

Thus, be prepared to answer questions about your surveying project before it even begins.

 

The Law

In addition to discussing your needs with the land surveying process, your company will also want to talk to you about the laws related to land surveying in your area.

 

A good company should let you know what they're looking for, how they make various determinations, and how and to whom they are obligated to report their findings.

 

Pay attention in this part of the process because all of this information is given for your benefit.

 

As you can see, a lot happens during the land surveying process. However, if you are prepared for what is going to occur and take steps to ready yourself and your land for it, it should go off without a hitch. And for easy, expert land surveying every time, contact the experts at Community Sciences Corporation.

Short Guide to Land Easements in Arizona

Sellers, buyers, and renters of land may encounter specific portions of potential or occupied properties that are called easements. Easements are legally defined sections of land that are used by others for driveways, logging roads, and other purposes. Here's a short guide to land easements in Arizona.

 

There Are Two Distinct Classes of Easements

Easements in gross and easements appurtenant are the two classifications of most land easements. An in-gross easement doesn't attach to the land or an individual, but only benefits a specific person or entity. For example, if you need access to a landlocked homesite, your neighbor can grant you an in-gross easement to a section of driveway on their land.

 

As an in-gross easement, only you and your family or agents can use the driveway. Your in-gross easement typically expires when you die or sell the land.

 

Easements appurtenant are those easements which do transfer with the land. Generally, the easement appurtenant attaches to the land from owner to owner and grants the right to use adjoining property in perpetuity.

 

Parcels in Easements Are Given Specific Names

In the land-title documents and property deeds, each land parcel in an easement clause has a designation to make it clear which land is benefiting from the use of the other parcel's real estate.

 

The land that gets to use part of the adjoining property's real estate is called the dominant tenement. The property dominates by being allowed access to land that's not part of its own property parcel.

 

The land that has to acquiesce and share part of its real estate to benefit the neighboring property is called the servient tenement. It must serve the adjoining property.

 

Easements Are Specific and Circumstantial

If you gain an easement through another property to access your new homestead, you can't sell parcels of your land and grant new easements to new landholders yourself. You also can't start a trucking business and use the road for semitruck traffic.

 

Your easement clause spells out the specific people and uses of the road by you and others. If you abuse an easement clause or fail to honor an easement on your property, you could suffer financial penalties, lose the easement altogether, or have a court decide how an easement should be defined.

 

Arizona law recognizes easements that are expressly defined in property deeds, property sales contracts, and other written agreements. Implied easements are recognized in situations where it's clear the creators of easements or owners of property intended for the easements to stand. Easements by prescription may also be established if a person openly used another person's property for at least 10 years.

 

Paperwork Is Required to Create or Refine Easements

There are a host of reasons why a person in Arizona needs an easement. You may need to use a section of someone's land to stage trucks to cut your trees. Or you might need to install drainage lines on the edge of an adjacent piece of property. You may also want to grant a conservation easement to your state or community. Or you want to grant access to horse riders and hikers on a section of your land.

 

For any type of easement, legal documentation is required. If you want a right-of-way on Arizona State Trust property, you must fill out an application with the state's Land Department. For neighbor-to-neighbor easements, you and your neighbor can come up with an agreement with your respective attorneys and file the agreement with your county.

 

You may have to go to court to receive access to an easement if the property owner is refusing to grant an easement or is not agreeing to the terms of an existing easement. To win your case, you need accurate, up-to-date land surveys and photographs of the properties in question.

 

Obtain accurate, professional property surveys when assessing, creating, and enforcing land easements in the Southwest United States. Contact Community Sciences Corporation to schedule expert, efficient land surveying throughout Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Commercial Refinancing and Land Survey Requirements

Market conditions are growing more favorable for property owners looking to reduce the amount of interest they pay on a commercial property loan. Refinancing a commercial property allows you to obtain access to current interest rates, which can be very beneficial if your original loan was obtained when interest rates were at their highest.

 

Land surveys play an important role in the completion of any commercial property refinancing. The finance company wants to know the current value of the property so that they can make an informed decision when it comes to extending credit to refinance the commercial property.

 

A land survey that is used for the purpose of commercial refinancing must contain some very specific pieces of information.

 

Property Improvements

Most finance companies require a land survey that adheres to ALTA (The American Land Title Association) standards before considering a request to refinance a commercial property. Included in these ALTA surveys is information on any improvements that have been made to the property.

 

Finance companies will use this information to help determine the current value of the property in preparation for financing. Improvements can include a wide range of items. Signage that has been installed on the property, asphalt parking lots and cement sidewalks, and any landscaping fixtures (like a sprinkler system or fountain) can be classified as improvements.

 

These property add-ons can each increase the value of the plot in question, so understanding the scope of the improvements is critical when refinancing commercial real estate loans.

 

Utilities

ALTA surveys don't require that information on utilities be included in the surveyor's final report, but many lending companies want to know about utilities that exist on the property or are serving the property to help establish value.

 

Utilities are an optional feature on ALTA surveys. You can choose between a basic observed evidence inclusion or a more comprehensive location description of utilities. Be sure to check with your lender to determine which utility option meets their minimum requirements.

 

Observed evidence is anything that a surveyor can see above the ground. This evidence might be utility poles, electric boxes, or water faucets installed on the exterior of buildings.

 

Comprehensive utility surveys require the surveyor to interpret data collected from the utility company, municipal records, and the clients' accounting records to determine the scope of utility services present. These types of utility surveys will cost more because they require more labor to complete.

 

Accessibility

The way that a property is accessed can have a direct impact on its value. Commercial properties need to have direct access to ensure customers and vendors can do business with ease.

 

An ALTA survey will always include information on accessibility limitations that might affect the value of a property. These limitations can include things like easements, roads, or right-of-ways that run through the boundaries of the commercial property.

 

Sometimes topographic features can restrict access to certain areas within a commercial plot of land. If your property has any bodies of water or steep changes in elevation that limit access, the ALTA survey will document this topographical information for the finance company.

 

Refinancing a commercial loan can be an arduous and time-consuming process. You almost certainly need a land survey before you can complete the refinancing process, and most finance companies want surveys that adhere to the strict standards of an ALTA survey.

 

These land surveys take time to complete because they rely on in-depth information to assess the location, improvements, accessibility, and other important factors that help determine property value.

 

Contact Community Sciences Corporation for more information on ALTA land surveys if you are thinking of refinancing your commercial property in the near future.

Basic Terminology to Know When Getting a Land Survey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Land surveys are important both for businesses and for individuals who want to buy and properly build on land. You may need one for a variety of purposes, from verifying what you're actually buying to finding the right usage for a space to settling any concerns or disputes. 

 

As you work with a land surveyor to learn more about your property, here are a few of the most useful terms to know.

 

Benchmark


A benchmark is a fixed point you can use to determine the characteristics of other locations. A marker or grove, for instance, may be a particular benchmark set at a known elevation and in a permanent spot. You can then measure things off this benchmark, both regarding their elevations as well as their distances. 

 

Calls


Objects within the surveying map are referred to as calls. Calls could include landscape details like hills, rivers, streams, existing roads, trees, and the like. Or it may refer to a measurement referenced in the mapping. Calls are important both to identify what the borders include as well as what physical objects you own and must contend with. 

 

Meridians and Baselines


How do you measure distance on compass points? The answer is meridians and baselines. A meridian line is a line running north to south. It represents longitude on a globe or map. Land is referred to as being a certain distance and position from this meridian line. The counterpart of a meridian line is the baseline. Baselines run east and west and correlate to latitudinal lines on a map. 

 

Metes and Bounds


Metes and bounds refer to a more traditional, (pre-GPS) way to measure land in relation to natural objects around it. This method makes use of two ways to measure boundaries. First, it follows a straight line from one point to another — referred to as a mete. Bounds are natural markers and landmarks used to define boundaries as well.

 

Monuments


Monuments are markers or references to markers that help locate map boundaries in the ground. Monuments are intended to be permanent and are often man-made — such as a stone marker sunk into the ground at a boundary corner or trees planted along one side of a lot to show its edge. Many categories of monuments exist, such as a line tree or a merestone. 

 

You may also find monuments that are more natural, such as streams, although these are technically typography rather than a legal monument. They may be referred to as a landmark instead of a prepared monument.

 

Plat


Plat is a strange word, but it affects just about any property. It's the original surveyor's map made when the land was first developed or sold. The plat gives a great deal of information, such as directions of land features and easements. You need to know exactly what's on your land, so this is the most original point of reference. Very old plats, though, may need an update with more modern methods to be exact. 

 

Plats are also useful in determining the actual shape of a piece of property and to see what has changed over the years — including features that you may need to get clarification about. 

 

Understanding the features of a land survey may take a little bit of work, but it's worth the effort. You will have confidence that you really know what you're buying and what you're allowed to do with it.

 

At Community Sciences Corporation, our surveyors have years of experience working with all types of properties and situations. We can help you resolve any concerns about your property too. Call today to learn more. 

Why Hire a Land Surveying Company Before You Buy Land

 

Whether you're looking to start investing in real estate or you just want to buy a lot of land, you need to consider hiring a surveying company first. Surveying companies are especially important when you buy a large or oddly shaped piece of property. If you don't think you need a surveyor, check out these benefits of which you should be aware.

 

It Defines the Property Lines


When you buy a finished piece of property, you can often define the property lines yourself, especially if the property has fences on it. However, if you buy land, especially land in the middle of nowhere, determining the exact extent of your property can be difficult unless you hire a land surveying company to define the property lines for you to establish the official boundary.

 

Knowing where your property ends is important for many reasons. First, you don't want to accidentally start building on someone else's property, but you also don't want someone else building on your property. Another benefit to knowing your property lines is fully knowing what is included, such as ponds, creeks, and facilities.

 

It Uncovers Potential Easements


Easements are pieces of land that someone else has been granted permission to use. For example, the previous owner may have allowed a neighbor to use a private road on their property as a shortcut. When the property is sold, however, the easement remains. Therefore, even if you never agreed to give someone access to your property, you may have to because of a former agreement.

 

A survey will uncover any potential easements so that you can determine what to do. In some cases, you may not care and will continue to let the neighbor use the road. However, if the road is in your way because you want to build something, you may need to take action to resolve the easement, or you may want to avoid buying the land altogether.

 

It Discovers Potential Encroachments


Another problem with buying land is your neighbors may not have gotten a survey before buying. Therefore, they may have not known where their property ended when they started building. As a result, you may have buildings or structures on or close to your property. Some may be easy to spot, such as a detached garage or barn.

 

Many potential encroachments, however, are underground, such as septic tanks, but a professional surveyor will find them for you. They can also help identify any other potential problems or perks underground, such as groundwater and wells. Not only does this help you know what's on your property, but it better prepares you for building.

 

It Helps You Plan for the Future


The biggest reason to get a land surveyor is because they will help you plan for the future. In some cases, the survey can mean saving hundreds of thousands of dollars by avoiding a piece of property that has a lot of problems, such as easements, so you can save your money for a better investment.

 

Of course, it also helps you know what you have. For example, if you plan to build a neighborhood or community, having a lake on the property could be a perk. However, that lake that enticed you to buy may not even be part of your property. By hiring a surveyor to tell you exactly what you own, you can better plan for your future and investment.

 

Buying land can be a great and rewarding investment and opportunity. However, if you don't know what you're getting, you're taking a big risk. A land surveying company will help you define your boundaries and uncover potential complications. For more information, contact us at Community Sciences Corporation today.

Tips for Choosing a Land Surveyor


Tips for Choosing a Land Surveyor

Buying a new home or piece of property is exciting. However, a lot of responsibilities come with this endeavor. For example, you may want to have the land surveyed first.

And, while getting a land survey might not seem like a big deal, you want to make sure you have it done the right way, which means hiring the right person. Fortunately, you can choose a great land surveyor and have everything go smoothly if you just follow a few basic tips.


Ensure You Get a Licensed Land Surveyor

Land surveyors have to be licensed to practice in the state in which they live. The findings of anyone who is not licensed would not be legitimate.

The good news is that it is illegal for people to practice land surveying without a license. This makes it less likely that someone would masquerade as a legitimate land surveyor without being one. To stay on the safe side, though, ask to see a surveyor's license before hiring them, or contact your state licensing board to check on the status of the person's license.


Look for Someone With Liability Insurance

Many land surveyors will advertise that they are licensed and bonded. However, what that means can really vary from one land surveyor to the next.

The type of insurance you really need a land surveyor to have is liability insurance. This insurance will protect you if the land surveyor makes some kind of error or mistake, especially if it is one that causes you problems in the future.

Ask the surveyor if they have this type of insurance and what it’s amount of covereage. If so, ask about how you'll be protected as a result. If not, then you may want to look into other options.


Get a Recommendation From Your Title Company

If you're having trouble choosing a land surveyor or if you can't pick between a few different options, get some expert advice.

Surprisingly, one great source of information is your title company. These companies typically work with many land surveyors.

As such, they should have plenty of information about who is a good surveyor, who charges the best prices, and who is the most accurate. Don't be afraid to call up your title company to ask questions and to get a recommendation for the best land surveyor around.


Look for Someone Who's a Lifelong Learner

Land surveying is a field that changes along with the times. New technologies, laws, and techniques often enter into the practice.

A good land surveyor will stay abreast of changes in the field and will regularly pursue continuing education related to it. Hiring a surveyor that makes an effort to continue their education will ensure that you get the most modern and accurate land-surveying services possible.

Remember, you are hiring this person to do a service, so don't be afraid to ask if and how the surveyor is continuing their education and staying on top of land-surveying trends.


Remember That Experience Counts for a Lot

Finally, make sure that you choose a land surveyor who has a lot of experience in the field. Typically, the more experience the land surveyor has, the better they will be at the job. Plus, more experience often equates to being less likely to make a mistake.

Ideally, try to find someone who has been in business for several years. This will give you great peace of mind and a better chance of a positive outcome.

If you can think about these things and do your research, you should be able to hire an excellent land surveyor. If you need help choosing someone or just want more information on land surveying, contact the experts at Community Sciences Corporation, they’ve been land surveying since 1974.