Do We Need a Land Survey Plat? And, What Is a Plat?

| 1/9/2015 9:28:00 AM

Land Survey Plat

The Small Home, Big Decisions series follows Jennifer and her husband, Tyler, as they build a self-reliant homestead on a piece of country property in northeastern Kansas. The series will delve into questions that arise during their building process and the decisions they make along the way. The posts are a work in progress, written as their home-building adventure unfolds.

I always try to look on the bright side of a situation, When my husband and I found out that our property, because of a technicality with the Leavenworth County Planning and Zoning department’s regulations, is zoned as a subdivision, I went to work trying to figure out a positive spin. I won’t lie: It was hard to do.

The parent property previously had a 10-acre chunk divided out of it, so our 40-acre slice from that parent property is, by the county’s rules, a subdivision. We were immediately overwhelmed with the requirements of this zoning: First, we would need to have a survey completed, and then file an official land survey plat with the county. We were provided a list of approved surveyors to work with, and given a list of dates by which we needed to have the plat submitted — along with a check to pay the county to review and, hopefully, approve the plat, of course — in order to be put on the agenda for a county planning commission meeting. We would need to attend the meeting, in case the commission had questions, and then, assuming the plat is approved, we would need to sign the final plat drawings and secure signatures from various county officials and our surveyor. Basically, we had several T’s to cross and I’s to dot.

First, we needed to understand what a plat was, and why it was different from the survey that had already been completed. A land survey plat is a specific type of official survey that shows the divisions of a piece of land and a predetermined set of features; see photo of part of our preliminary plat above. This specific survey is needed because our property was subdivided from a larger piece of land, so was not yet recognized as an official, separate piece of mapped property by the county.

We met with the county planners to try and explain that we weren’t in fact going to be using this property in any way that resembles a subdivided development. We even tried to explain that not requiring a seller to undergo this process before being able to sell a piece of property seemed out of order to us, and that having the buyer have to go back to the title company to adjust the official property name and description after the plat is completed is an unfair burden. But, our pleas didn’t change our reality. So, not having much choice, we set out to make it all happen — and I set out to find a positive spin.

10/14/2015 7:46:24 PM

I really liked your tips about using a surveyor. I had a similar situation happen to me. I built a fence and it turned out that it was on my neighbor's property. I appreciate you sharing.

10/12/2015 9:58:32 PM

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4/3/2015 2:09:20 PM

Thanks for going through your experience with land surveyors. It can be a bit frustrating if you're not used to the details and it's good to have a guide like this to reference. This article will be helpful to anyone who is getting ready to go through the process for the first time. Great article, I'm glad I found it.

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