House Bill 76 (HB76) was introduced into the 2016/2017 legislative session in hopes to undo many of the unintended consequences of House Bill 1004 (HB1004) of the 2015/2016 legislative session. Like HB1004, under HB76 plats will be recorded electronically through the GSCCCA e-file portal process and still require the three inch square box located in the upper left hand corner of all plats, reserved for the recording information to be inserted by the Clerk of the Superior Court. Under HB76, the Surveyor now has four certifications to choose from based on the type of survey performed and the process used by the local governing authority for plat approval.
Certification (i) is for the traditional approval process. Hard copies will be submitted to the local governing authority where the local governing authority will review and place their certifications, stamps, and signatures of approval on the face of the plat. The surveyor may release the plat prior to these approvals; however, the plat will need these approvals along with the surveyor’s stamp and signature prior to submitting for recording through the GSCCCA e-file portal process.
Certification (ii) is for the paperless online plat review process. The surveyor shall place an approval table on the face of the plat that contains the name of the local governing authority that approved the plat, the name of the individual who approved the plat, and the date of approval. The surveyor may denote upon the face of the plat, in place of the surveyor’s signature, restrictive language such as “DRAFT – FOR REVIEW PRIOR TO APPROVAL.” Upon approval, the surveyor shall remove such restricting language and place the surveyor’s stamp and signature prior to submitting for recording through the GSCCCA e-file portal process. (Note: Some surveyors may opt to sign the plat along with placing the restrictive language on the face of the plat when submitting to the local governing authorities for approval.)
In 2005, the Attorney General addressed a serious issue with the local governing authorities trying to subvert the public and their right to have their plats recorded. The Attorney General’s opinion was clear that the intent of the 1994-1996 General Assembly was to prevent the local governing authorities from such tactics. House Bill 1004 (HB1004) was in direct conflict with the 1994-1996 General Assembly intent and the 2005 Attorney General’s opinion. Certification (iii) is in response to this conflict and intended to protect the public and their rights to have their retracement plats recorded without undue restrictions from the local governing authorities. Certification (iii) is for retracement surveys that do not subdivide, or create a new parcel, or makes any changes to any real property boundaries. Certification (iii) allows the surveyor to perform a retracement survey along with, if any, the depicting of gores, overlaps, or other parcel delineation related to title issues or deficiencies, and may show existing or proposed easements for utilities or conservation areas. Under Certification (iii), the public shall be entitled to have their plat submitted to the GSCCCA e-file portal process for recording without further review from the local governing authority.
Certification (iv) is for those jurisdictions that do not review or approval plats, or when the local governing authority has issued a resolution, ordinance, or has a policy that approval is not necessary prior to recording. If a platted property lies wholly within such a jurisdiction under Certification (iv), the public shall be entitled to have their plat submitted to the GSCCCA e-file portal process for recording without further review from the local governing authority.
Immediately beneath the certification, the Surveyor shall place his/her signature with the seal within or next to the certification box. The Surveyor’s signature is no longer required over the seal, nor to be in contrasting color of ink.
Along with no mechanism to record a retracement survey without undue restrictions from the local governing authorities, HB1004 had no means for the public to record an existing plat. HB76 has attempted to address this through O.C.G.A. § 15-6-67(3)(i) which states “Any plats or condominium plans prepared prior to May 8, 2017, in compliance with previous statutory requirements may be recorded pursuant to this Code section so long as such documents are submitted as electronic images and presented to the clerk of superior court electronically.” Older plats meeting the statutory requirements at the time of their preparation shall be eligible for recording through the GSCCCA e-file portal process.