The Tooele City Planning Commission has forwarded a revised property boundaries ordinance to the Tooele City Council for review.
If passed, the ordinance would allow Tooele residents to adjust the boundaries of their properties with greater ease.
For example, two or more neighbors in agreement about how the boundaries should change could submit to the city scale drawings and legal descriptions of what they want done. Those steps would forgo the formal subdivision process, which is currently required and can be time consuming and costly.
The planning commission had discussed whether or not the new ordinance should require a formal survey, but voted unanimously to recommend the ordinance without the requirement. Still, Steven Dale, a member of the planning commission, said that in some cases, a survey was advisable.
Dale, a professional surveyor not currently in private practice, explained that many of the older lots in Tooele, particularly those in the original city plats or old unplatted lots, are based entirely on legal descriptions within the property’s deed.
Because these lots have never been subject to a formal survey, they may actually be smaller or larger than the current owners believe. It could be better in the long run, Dale said, if residents in these areas survey their properties before making changes based on the text-only description in the deed. This insures “what you’re intending to do is ultimately what you end up doing,” he said.
Dale said he had discussed the issue at length with city staff, who feared that requiring a survey would complicate a process they meant to simplify through the ordinance.
If a deed is involved, some level of survey has taken place, even on the city’s oldest lots, said Jim Bolser, Community Development and Public Works Director for Tooele City.
Because the proposed ordinance does require that the applicants present the original deeds and legal descriptions when requesting a change to their property boundaries, Bolser said he felt requiring the additional survey unnecessarily complicated the entire process.
If there are discrepancies between the deed and the actual property, those are the resident’s responsibility.
“With a legal description, we can determine that the properties involved in the application in whole are proposed to be the same total ground in size, location, shape, etc. as they currently are and whether or not the proposed property layouts meet the area and dimension requirements of their zoning,” Bolser wrote in an email. “Knowing that, we feel the understanding of discrepancies in a piece of property lies with the property owner as a right and responsibility of owning property.”
After considering the issue for two weeks, the planning commission voted through a compromise that would require applicants to illustrate the intended modifications with a to-scale drawing, but left the choice to hire a surveyor to the residents themselves.