The American Land Title Association and the National Society of Professional Surveyors recently completed an updated version of the standards associated with the performance of an ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey. These standards are scheduled to become effective February 23, 2016. Beside the name change to ALTA/NSPS LAND TITLE SURVEY, various significant revisions have been made.
There are many changes being made to the old standards, but this blog will focus on the wetlands regulation changes. I’ll provide review and details on all of the revisions being made to new standards in future blogs.
Not all elements of an ALTA survey are required. Within the optional Table A items of the new standards, item 18 states:
“If there has been a field delineation of wetlands conducted by a qualified specialist hired by the client, the surveyor shall locate any delineation markers observed in the process of conducting the field work and show them on the face of the plat or map. If no markers were observed, the surveyor shall so state.”
What is one to do with this optional item?
Wetland regulations come under various jurisdictions around the country. The wetland regulators can be the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), State environmental agencies or local authorities and commissions.
The presence of wetlands clearly impacts potential development opportunities that may exist on the site. It is a key component in a prospective purchasers due diligence activities to understand (A) if wetlands even exist or not and (B) what impacts they may have on the site especially if the property is being acquired with expansion in mind. Not only can the wetland line itself have a significant impact on the property, but it is also the impact of the buffers around the wetlands that may be imposed by regulations that reduce the expansion prospects even further. Furthermore, an approved delineation by the local regulatory body may only be valid for a limited period of time.
Under the 2011 standards, optional item 19 required the “location of wetland areas by appropriate authorities.” If this item was checked, it was often done by utilizing large scale agency mapping with approximations of wetlands. There was likely no ground field delineation.
When ordering your next survey under the 2016 ALTA/NSPS standards be sure to understand how this optional item 18 may impact your site. Be certain to also understand the time factor that will be needed for the delineation and subsequent field survey and mapping.