Clerk’s Bill to revise how plats are recorded (House Bill 1004 ~ 2015/2016 Regular Session)

Many have concerns about the recent passing and signing into law, of House Bill 1004. Particularly in regard to the effect the law will have. These misgivings come from both the surveyor’s point of view and a property owner’s.

Having reviewed and participated in the legislative process on several bills in the pasted, this House Bill 1004 and its verbiage ranks among the worst I have ever seen. It gives me the impression that the scriber had no understanding of his subject matter.

There are many issues with the legislation which are conspicuously bad, of them the most egregious to me is the Surveyor’s Certificate, which starts at line 63 and runs thru line 79, which is in complete contempt for the Attorney General’s opinion U2005-5 that the Clerks of Court sought and got clarification on in 2005.

No one should be codify something that that can only be addressed through the surveyor’s technical standards, the 180 Rules for Surveying, as set out by the Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. This is addressed through the Board for Engineers and Land Surveyors requirements of O.C.G.A. §15-6-67(b) and (d), of the State Code. Rather than solving anything, House Bill 1004 has served to create a much bigger problem for the Clerks of the Superior Court, The Local Governing Authorities, The Land Surveyor, and the public at large.

Making a requirement that the Surveyor certify that all applicable laws, codes, and ordinances have been meet constitutes a legal opinion, which surveyors are not qualified to give. As surveyors and professional, we cannot be responsible for, the ordinances that a governing authority might select to governing a project. Additionally, many times projects fall under multiple governing authorities, for which they often conflict with each other.

In 2005, the Attorney General was asked to address a serious issue with local governing authorities trying to subvert the public and their right to have plats recorded. The ruling was clear that the intent of the 1994-1996 General Assembly was to prevent local governing authorities from such tactics. See Unofficial Opinion 20005-5.

He went on to lay out a clear and precise guideline to the Surveying Profession and the Clerks of the Superior Court on how to handle this matter. If the plat meets the guidelines then the plat was to be recorded without the local governing authority added additional restrictions.

Once again a small group has attempted to subvert the public’s right to have their plats put on record by having undue restrictions placed on them by a local governing authority. Land ownership, and the people’s right to own land comes from the State.

Where the local governing authority has the right to planning and zoning, they do not have the right to place an undue burden on the public’s right to land ownership.

We have come across several “lots of recorded” that were approved and recorded at the time of their creation, but due to ever increasing regulations (and some local governing authorities need for power and creative taxing), these lots cannot be re-recorded today under this new law. The public has the right to place their plats on record, whether or not it meets the current flavor of the day as mandated by some local governing authority.