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Introducing Metes and Bounds Mapping With WhiteStar Legal Mapper

Robert White

Real estate and lease parcel boundaries are often described in terms more complex than just a portion of a public land survey section or Texas abstract. These additional descriptive elements are termed “metes and bounds” or literally “measurements along boundaries” which, taken together, describe a land polygon. A typical description consists of one or more compass bearings and a distance, traverses and distance along a watercourse, or distances along a road or railroad right-of-way and a closing segment back to the point of beginning.

Until now, the WhiteStar Legal Mapper was only capable of mapping legal descriptions described as one or more portions (aliquots) of the public land survey, such as the “south half of section six” or “lots 6-12 in section 9.” In Public Land Survey state projects, we have observed that approximately 75% of project data can be mapped by aliquot portion with the remaining descriptions falling into the more complex metes and bounds category. With our new ArcGIS Pro extension, WLM can map metes and bounds descriptions better, faster and more efficiently. Even small improvements in time spent on this task result in huge savings and efficiency improvements for your mapping department where technicians may spend several hours or even a day mapping a single legal description.

In non public land survey states, or internationally, up to 100% of project legal descriptions may consist of metes and bounds descriptions, such as in the Marcellus play in Pennsylvania or in most of the world. The new edition of the WLM is equipped to handle Metes and Bounds descriptions using many different kinds of units used in various parts of the US and world such as survey feet, meters, varas, etc.

Many software programs have the capability to map metes and bounds using COGO (coordinate geometry descriptions), however WhiteStar’s ArcGIS Pro extension has the unique capability to take a scanned deed or free form text from a database as input, to highlight the compass bearings and distances described in the document, and to allow the user to quickly populate a fully editable data structure from which the final polygon is constructed. For descriptions in Public Land Survey states, a web service is provided to quickly locate points of origin referencing the Public Land Survey System.

It’s critical to save and document all of the steps and data that were used to build a particular mapped polygon. This is another area where WhiteStar Legal Mapper really shines to preserve all evidence of your hard work.

For the next 45 days, WhiteStar will be working with industry partners and customers to thoroughly beta test its offering with a scheduled launch in early May. Please contact Mark Woloszyk if you wish to obtain further details or to stay in tune with further developments.