In our continuing series on plats and commercial title insurance, this article discusses issues that may arise with monuments and easements. Read our previous entries on plats: taxes and plat names, and the process of creating a plat.
The plat should depict all monuments that have been set by surveyors, and all distances and directions should be depicted on the plat for each and every boundary line, effectively laying a metes and bounds description call-by-call into the plat. In addition, the name and adjacent boundary line of any adjoining plats must be identified on a plat to be filed. This will help ensure that there are no overlaps or gaps between these plats.
Easements affecting the land being platted need to be shown on the plat. This is true of both the internal preexisting easements that aren’t being vacated, as well as new easements internal to the plat, such as utility easements that frequently circuit the perimeter of the various lots or blocks.
It is not unusual in the course of creating a plat to encounter easements and roads that interfere with the intended arrangement of the platted lots. Preexisting easements and roads can often be vacated, so long as adequate time is allowed to secure the necessary approval to do so. Any items being vacated are not going to be depicted on the new plat so long as they are vacated in advance of that plat being filed.
Note that easement and roadway vacations have to follow a statutory procedure, which can be a lengthy process. This raises an important timing issue because vacations will likely require public notice and a hearing, followed by approval of the city council or town board. If not properly anticipated, this process can add significant delays to plat filings, and can interrupt subsequent projects and improvements on the affected land.
A plat may establish easement areas. For example if a plat is being filed that is creating a shopping center development, there will usually be common areas created over parking lots or internal driveways and so the plat may identify those areas. Likewise, common areas such as ponding areas, parks, ingress and egress points, pedestrian walkways, and other appurtenances can be created on the plat.