Your County Surveyor is a constitutional officer of the county and is elected to a 4-yr term from the county at large. The primary duties of the County Surveyor, in accordance with the Indiana Code are as follows:
The County Surveyor maintains a legal survey record book for all legal surveys within the county. A legal survey is a survey prepared by a registered land surveyor with notice to all adjoining landowners to resolve property disputes.
The County Surveyor must keep and maintain a corner record book showing original government section corners. Every deed, parcel, and legal land document in the State of Indiana is tied into the original survey performed in the early years of settlement. Section corner posts were set at half mile intervals to mark each square mile of the State. In order to prevent gaps and overlaps of land ownership, it is important that these markers are maintained. Subsequent surveys established stones, iron pipes, concrete posts, and various other markers at these locations. The County Surveyor is tasked with the job of finding these section corners, (by digging in roadways, yards and fields) referencing them by measurements to nearby structures, (such as utility poles, fence post, and buildings) and marking the location of the section corner at the surface (of the ground, roadways, etc). The cost of maintaining the section corners is paid through the Section Corner Perpetuation Fund which consists of money collected by the County Recorder when deeds are recorded. The County Surveyor must check and reference at least 5% of all corners shown in the Corner Record Book and establish, locate and reference at least 5% of all original corners each year.
The County Surveyor is an ex-officio, non voting, member of the County Drainage Board. In this capacity the County Surveyor is the technical authority on the construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of all regulated drains or proposed regulated drains in the county. The Board and Surveyor have jurisdiction over regulated drains. Regulated drains are drains established by either the Commissioners Court or Circuit Court of each county prior to 1965 or the Drainage Board since 1965. These drains are open ditches, tile drains, or a combination.
In the 1800’s, Indiana farmers started to get together and create community drains which everyone paid to maintain. Today, the CountySurveyor is responsible to ensure that these regulated drains function. This is of the utmost importance to the entire community to prevent flooding. Such responsibilities include field investigations of drains, developing drainage studies and technical specifications for work performed on tile drains and open ditches, reconstruction petitions, overseeing new drain construction, and Public Hearings concerning maintenance funds. The County Surveyor often supervises the investments of the assessments collected to support or maintain the Regulated Drain Infrastructure. As a result, your County Surveyor works hard to try and protect citizens from flooding and drainage problems.
The County Surveyor is a member of the County Plan Commission. As a member of the Commission they attend the monthly meetings and hear and make decisions on subdivisions and planning. The County Surveyor and staff are often looked to for technical review of plats.
When development occurs in your county or community, the County Surveyor often works hand in hand with other community officials to ensure the existing residents are not negatively impacted. This effort helps protect the neighbors upstream and downstream from pollution and flooding while the work is underway and after it is completed. The Surveyor deals not only with developers, but also with the people developers hire. These could be architects, attorneys, design professionals, engineers, environmental consultants, planners, project managers, surveyors and their technicians.
Whenever development occurs, be it a single family home on rural acreage, an entire subdivision, a strip mall, or an industrial park, the County Surveyor is there to help guide the process and review the plans.
A review of the information contained within the County Surveyor’s Office (maps, surveys, topographic maps, aerials or even the technical requirements for the submission of the plat) can be very instrumental in a smooth transition from planning through construction to completion.
Prior to the Indiana Alcoholic Beverage Commission issuing a new Alcoholic Beverage Permit in an unincorporated area, the County Surveyor must certify that the permit location is within a one (1) mile radius of a settlement or group of residences in the unincorporated area that has been in existence for more than 10 years. The area must be a place for purchases or public meetings or as a community or neighborhood center.
The Surveyor’s office maintains information such as bench marks, USGS Topo Maps, Wetland Inventory Maps, Flood Zone Maps, Surveyors Records, road and railroad rights-of-way maps, historical aerials, and drain files. Many of these are now available electronically on this website or by email request.
On any given day, your County Surveyor and their staff may be in the field working on section corner perpetuation or on a county regulated drain. They may be in the office discussing the next big development coming to your county, or having a public hearing for a drainage board concern. They may be helping a constituent understand a land surveying description, or explaining technical specifications to a contractor on a construction project. They may be certifying an alcoholic beverage permit, or meeting with state and federal agencies concerning permit conditions for a regulated drain project.
The duties of your County Surveyor are many, but a large focus of what they do is meant to reduce flooding, while maintaining clean water in our lakes, ponds, regulated drains, rivers, streams and wetlands.
Your County Surveyor is there to help properly manage and coordinate the growth of our communities, while at all times being a good steward of our natural resources and tax dollars.
If you have any questions, please visit the Elkhart County Surveyor’s Office. Their technical assistance and guidance are an extremely valuable asset. Find out what your Elkhart County Surveyor can do for you!