Know Your Boundaries — Case Studies in Big Boundary Surveys
Know your boundaries, that’s simple enough. Well, as it turns out, re-establishing property lines is no small task. Just one mile of boundary survey involves a litany of factors including: angry property owners, historical records, old photos, wildlife that bites hard, and, depending on the weather, lots of water. This isn’t about a mile or two of boundaries, this is about massive boundary surveys. In the past few years Continental Mapping, a small business, has performed some notably massive boundary surveys.
Tinker Air Force Base Alta Survey Part I
Back in 2006 the auto industry in the United States was reeling. Many plants in the US were being shuttered during a decade of decline. Such was the case for the General Motors Oklahoma Assembly plant, which produced its last car in February of 2006. The property lay idle for years as a lasting memory of thousands of jobs lost. In 2008 that all changed with a ballot initiative worth $55 million to acquire the property and lease it to neighboring Tinker Air Force Base.
With the passage of the ballot initiative, the people of Oklahoma City purchased this massive property that was densely packed with industrial infrastructure. This project necessitated a task order to Continental Mapping to obtain a new ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey of the 440 acres. When designing the technical approach to the project, Continental Mapping chose to complete a traditional ALTA survey yet also acquire aerial photography. The resulting data sets were fused together. To complete the project, Continental Mapping acquired new, color imagery of the project site to adequately achieve horizontal and vertical precision required to meet the ALTA specifications. In addition, all mapping was required to meet or exceed ASPRS Class 1 Map Accuracy Standards. The resulting 1”=50’ imagery was used to develop above ground planimetric mapping for all topographic features such as roads, sidewalks, tanks, fences, utilities, etc.
The locations of existing utilities were determined from a combination of field observations and record information. The legal description of the site included nine separate exceptions that revealed several variations of direction and distance along common lines. Many of the legal descriptions also included inadequate information in describing non-tangent curves. Continental Mapping’s survey crews reset 36 of the required 49 corner monuments that delineated this property.
Tinker AFB Alta Survey Part II
It’s clear that the people of Oklahoma City have strong ties to Tinker AFB, and it’s hard to blame them with the economic engine it has proven to be. In 2014 the community joined forces with Tinker AFB again to acquire the BNSF rail facility that once supported the pre-existing GM plant. For $44 million the group bought the land, some 156 acres next to the old GM site, for what is looking to be another good investment. The long term goal with this site is to transform it into a $500 million maintenance depot that will host a new state of the art aircraft — the KC-46A. The KC-46A is a next generation refueling aircraft that is said to extend the reach of military aircraft around the globe. Also, this is believed to be an anchor for 50 years of activity at Tinker AFB. With the 2,000 or so more jobs it will create will come a wide spread economic impact gain.
Much like the GM site, the BNSF site is intricate with a web of steel rails that once held hundreds of rail cars bringing parts into the GM plant and brand new vehicles back out. Anytime a purchase that large is made it’s important to know what exactly was bought and where the property ends.
To complete the job, Continental Mapping acquired new, color imagery of the project site to adequately achieve horizontal and vertical precision required to meet the ALTA specifications. The resulting 1”=50’ imagery was used to develop above ground planimetric mapping for all topographic features such as roads, sidewalks, tanks, fences, utilities, etc. All mapping was required to meet or exceed ASPRS Class 1 Map Accuracy Standards. The Continental Mapping survey team delivered a detailed survey report with a comprehensive field book. All monuments, existing and new, were included giving the base an authoritative and up to date property record.
Fort Sill Boundary Survey
After the Civil War, American military focus shifted to the immense task of settling the west. In early 1869, Major General Phil Sheridan staked out a patch of land deep in Indian Territory that would become Fort Sill. At the time, Oklahoma was virtually off limits to settlement and would not become a state for another 38 years. Fast forward almost 150 years, and the Army’s Fort Sill is stronger than ever at a sprawling 323,760 square miles. Fort Sill is considered one of the premier training facilities in the military, tasked with training the best artillery soldiers in the world.
Fort Sill has grown regularly through the years, but formal tracking of the fort’s real estate holdings had not kept pace. Prior to the project, the most recent boundary survey was performed by the Army in 1936. This meant that in 2014, approximately 25% of the fort’s boundary was missing from the official record. Additionally, a roadway realignment completed several decades prior had never been surveyed. That roadway, as seen above, cuts right through the fort and the adjacent Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. On top of that, encroachments and inferior security fencing in remote sections of the base dictated the need for boundary survey.
Continental Mapping was tasked by the US Army Corps of Engineers to perform 75 miles of boundary surveying at Fort Sill. Work has included site investigation, land records research, coordination with local, state and federal agencies, establishing monuments and signs at every corner, and delivering a final survey for recordation at the county courthouse.
The survey research proved to be a significant task involving many historical documents, some dating back to the late 1800s, describing the history of Fort Sill’s boundary. At that time, the boundary was marked by four stones at each corner of the property. Continental Mapping is using all available sources to accurately retrace the boundary including resurvey information from the Bureau of Land Management and US Army as well as local surveys.
Continental Mapping has been working steadily on the job for the past several months and is on track to finish on time, with all major milestones met to date.
It should also be noted that Continental Mapping is simultaneously performing a 16 mile boundary survey at US Army Fort Polk Military Reservation in Louisiana, also through the USACE Tulsa IDIQ contract vehicle. This project is also running on schedule, a clear demonstration of Continental Mapping’s surveying capacity and capabilities.
Summary of Services included:
- Preliminary research including county courthouse documents, deeds, and other land records
- Preliminary field reconnaissance and investigation
- Establish a horizontal control network as needed
- Survey all controlling evidence in vicinity
- Evaluate all evidence and determine location of the boundary
- Place or perpetuate monuments at all boundary corners
- Identify the location of potential encroachments
- Deliver survey maps and digital data compliant with agency requirements