LGWCD Supervisors Approve Road And Canal Easement Survey

The Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District Board of Supervisors on Monday hired the engineering firm Erdman Anthony to conduct surveys of the district’s roadways and canal easements in order to prepare maintenance maps.

Erdman Anthony Vice President James Noth, a professional surveyor, gave a presentation on how the surveys will be conducted, explaining that the maintenance maps are established by Florida Statutes.

“The key element here for a road that hasn’t been established by statute or passed over by regular maps is that there’s a period of seven years that you’ve maintained it as a public entity, then you can come in and do this maintenance map procedure,” he said. “This is a very formalized process and procedure that we have at the state level.”

Noth said special districts are in an awkward position, being neither a state agency nor a municipality or a county, pointing out that the LGWCD recently got legislation enabling it to proceed with the mapping to allow it to conduct maintenance on the roadways and canal easements for the future establishment of horse trails by the town.

Noth said he has prepared about a dozen maintenance maps for various entities, including the Florida Department of Transportation, which has very specific guidelines.

“For our field procedures, what we’re prepared to do is to use GPS equipment tied to the Florida State Coordinating System to collect the data needed to prepare the maps,” he said, explaining that they set up a GPS base station over a known control point to coordinate the data. “We have lots of them scattered out over the area out here that we and other surveyors have used. The county has established a lot of those, and the state has established a few of them.”

Noth said a worker will be assigned to the device primarily to assure that it is not stolen. “There has been a high incidence of theft of these things,” he said.

Surveyors will also be taking shots of the existing rights of way, which will be coordinated with GPS data to create the maps.

“Essentially, we will do the roads and canals simultaneously. We’ll set up that base station, and it will be within a two-mile radius of where we’re working,” he said, explaining that they will take three shots at each survey location about 100 feet apart, each side of the road and canal together, and another on the canal maintenance easement side where future equestrian trails will be located.

The survey of the currently maintained lines will be put in a GIS overlay for comparison and correction, working closely with LGWCD personnel who know the rights of way and easements well, he said.

The total cost for the survey of roads and canals will be $136,674, with the breakdown of cost at $127,174 for the 29.05-mile equestrian trail portion and $9,500 for the 18.2-mile roadside portion. Recording fees with the county will be $1,965 for the equestrian portion and $1,245 for the roadside portion, bringing the total to $139,884.

Noth estimated that about three-quarters of the work is associated with the canals, which breaks down to $103,872 for the equestrian/canal portion and $32,802 for the roadside portion.

Supervisor Frank Schiola asked how long the survey will take, and Noth estimated two or three months once they have authorization to begin the work, depending upon how smoothly the coordination with the county goes.

LGWCD Administrator Steve Yohe said there will be a cost-share with the town on the survey. “We’re working on an interlocal agreement and hoping to finalize that this week,” Yohe said.

Schiola asked how many times the survey will have to be done, and Noth said one time should be all that is necessary. “Once you record those maps, that becomes the right of way,” he said.

Noth added that the survey will only establish horizontal lines and will not establish vertical lines for elevations and drainage.

“This is to get you horizontal boundary lines,” he said. “It is not a design survey. If you come back out to do a road design or drainage design, there is additional surveying that would have to be done, but the boundary lines would not change.”

Supervisor Don Widing said he was excited that the survey would finally be done.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Widing said. “There may very well be some of those conflicts, but we need to move forward with it and put this thing where it needs to be once and for all.”

Supervisor John Ryan pointed out that the survey will confirm easements, not titles, and will give a perpetual use permit to the town for the use of the canal maintenance roads as trails. “It doesn’t require ownership, so it doesn’t change anybody’s ownership,” he stressed.

Ryan made a motion to approve the survey, which carried 4-0 with Chairman Dave DeMarois absent.