The following was a comment that was shared during our Salary and Satisfaction Survey that deserved a response.
“I have an issue with Listers (who do GIS parcel mapping) who create gaps or slivers of land that, if a surveyor was involved first, wouldn’t exist. They take the deed as gospel and map it. The deed is a great guide to locating the property and that can’t be done in an office. The gap/sliver may appear to exist on paper but quite often a surveyors search history, previous deed construction, occupation and use, and chain of ownership can prove that the gap or sliver does not exist. I’ve even seen where the lister created a gap/sliver parcel that eventually went delinquent and the adjoining owner who already owned on each side of the new gap parcel had to buy it…even though they had been using in for 40+ years. Mappers in the office making survey decisions/ownership decisions should not happen. That should be taught and pointed out as often as possible!”
This is more of a question to be directed to the Wisconsin Real Property Listers Association (WRPLA), however, being an honorary member of that organization and past president I will tackle it. I will say that not all gap/slivers are created equal. The office in which the position of Real Property Lister resides will influence to some extent how it is handled as will their corporation counsel’s opinions or decisions. Ultimately the decision to create a tax parcel is often out of necessity. Their role as Real Property Lister is to list property so that it is assessed and ultimately taxed based on the documents of record in the register of deeds office. Once that parcel is created and taxes go delinquent the decision to proceed with the foreclosure process falls to the Treasurer. That stated it is impossible for anyone to “survey from their desk” and tax parcel mapping is the best representation for the purposes of assessment and taxation and is not intended to replace the need for a survey. GIS is not a replacement for “Getting It Surveyed” and the WRPLA and WLIA alike respect and support the role of surveyors.
I would suggest that discussions perhaps would need to take place between GIS staff, members of the WRPLA, as well as members of the Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors (WSLS) or Wisconsin County Surveyors Association (WCSA), to determine best practices when handling these situations. With best intentions a Real Property Lister (RPL) or GIS staff will map the legal boundary rather than the occupied boundary. Beyond that there is a finesse with how the situation is handled. Decisions on who if anyone is notified when a gap/sliver parcel is created, or possibly what parties are notified if the gap/sliver is the result of what is perceived to be the result of an error, especially who receives the tax bill for a gap/sliver parcel are all factors that influence the outcome. Because no two situations are often alike, without all the details, I am not in a position to make further comment on the specific situation you have noted.
I apologize for not addressing this comment sooner as I intended to release this post last week. I originally was going to address it with the other comments but it seemed to be fit for its own response. I will note that legal description interpretation workshops and sessions have been well attended at WLIA events and I believe that there is an endless source of vague descriptions and attempts to address or deal with them. Sometimes people will not see eye to eye on the determination of how to handle a gap or sliver, even if it is RPL to RPL or a pair of surveyors, let alone anyone else.