A for sale sign at the edge of a lot in the Muddy Valley subdivision just outside of Williston. The Williams County Commission heard Tuesday that the recorded property lines don't match with how the subdivision is laid out and that a new survey might be needed.

Jamie Kelly • Williston Herald

A subdivision in Williams County might need to be re-surveyed, and it isn’t clear who will need to bear the cost of that, the Williams County Commission heard Tuesday morning.

Blake Sexton, a surveyor, told the commission that he’d been hired to lay out the property lines of a lot in the Muddy Valley subdivision, which is located off 54th Street East, when he found a problem.

“It’s apparent there’s a discrepancy between the official plat and what’s on the ground,” he said.

After discovering the issue with the boundary lines he’d been hired to survey, he looked into it further.

“The issue is not just limited to one or two lots or the one block,” he told commissioners.

The problems include the fact that the current road is not where the road should be according to the plat, and that there aren’t the right easements recorded. With homes being built there, that means people could start using property they think belongs to them but actually belongs to a neighbor.

“There’s a whole lot of issues going on here,” Sexton said.

He said he brought it before the commission because state law has a provision for a corrected plat to be issued. That requires a public hearing with notice published 10 days ahead of time and the commission would have to pass a resolution saying the plat needed to be corrected.

Commission Chairman David Montgomery asked how the error happened. Sexton said it appeared the person who originally surveyed the subdivision, who worked for Westrum’s Land Surveying Inc. and has since retired made a mistake.
Under state law, the county would have to pay for the new survey and plat, and the cost would be assessed to property owners who benefited from the change.

Montgomery said it didn’t make sense for the county to be responsible for the error when the commission accepted the plat based on the recommendation of the original surveyor.

“It should fall back on the person who messed up,” he said.

Commissioner Martin Hanson agreed, saying unless the county hired staff surveyors to follow up on the work done by others, there was no way to check for errors.

“I have a real hard time figuring out why the taxpayers of Williams County are responsible for paying to fix someone else’s mistake,” Montgomery said.

He also wondered if it might be a better option for property owners to band together in court and force the original surveyor to fix the plat.

“It’s in the county’s jurisdiction,” Commissioner Steve Kemp said.

Sexton said he wasn’t sure if all of the property owners were aware of the problem.

“Well, they’re going to find out,” Montgomery said.

County attorney Karen Prout said the commission was the only body with the authority to fix the plat problems.

The commission voted unanimously to have Prout and County Surveyor Pat Beebe to research what the county should do next. They are expected to give their recommendation at the commission’s first meeting in June, which is scheduled for 8 a.m. on June 5.



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