Thursday, January 21, 2010

GIS Mapping May Affect Area Farmers

If you have dealings with the FDA, USDA (Botetourt Farm Agency), Mountain Castles Soil and Water District, any of the Conservation Easement Organizations, and possibly your Insurance Agency, etc., etc., you may become aware of their dependence on the GIS parcel maps.  They generally will go to to the official Botetourt County website: and then to the links for GIS Mapping: and superimpose the outline parcel map for your farm over the aerial map.

You will need at least a broadband Internet connection to access this site and enough memory to download the GIS map viewing software to access the maps of your farm.  The area public libraries may have their accessible computers set up to go to the GIS Map site.  If not, ask if they will set it up for citizens who have no other option to access the maps.

It is worthwhile to take a close look at your farm's map.  It never crosssed my mind that there could be serious mistakes on those maps, and I know I'm not alone in this.  However, I found that the map of my farm showed half my barns and one pond on someone else's parcel!  This, despite the fact that we filed an accurate survey of our property in the Clerk of the Court's Office in 1997!

Every parcel which is not properly mapped has parcels surrounding it which are affected.  Each parcel affected has other parcels around it which are affected, and so on...

The GIS Mapping Project in Botetourt County is ten years old.  There was plenty of time to check and correct incorrect maps.  Historically recent surveys should be properly represented, at the very least.  It is reasonable to expect that land without surveys may have errors in mapping, but I do not accept that there is any excuse for ignoring surveyed land within the county.

There is a "disclaimer" on the GIS site which seeks to create a legal protection for damages caused by incorrect mapping.  I do not understand the purpose of accepting serious errors in this mapping.  There's not much point in placing incorrect maps on the official County website. 

If you find an error, call the County Administrator and report it.  I've been told that the County will not do the corrections until April 2010.  That is unacceptable, in my opinion.  If you feel the same, please voice your concern!

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