News and Updates
2017 SDSPLS 34th Annual Convention
January 11, 12 and 13, 2017
Cedar Shore Resort, Chamberlain, SD

From President Leetch   (May 2017)
Still Making Surveying Great: 
(aka From the President)
Following the release of the last Backsights and Foresights (March 2017) I received a nice phone call from a friend and a thank you card from Edward H Sunde.   Edward explained he had been retired from surveying for over 15 years and that he has moved to Minnesota. An inquiry to Janelle, I learned he is one of the founders of the SDSPLS. I am glad he still keeps in touch by reading the professional survey news of the Backsights and Foresights. Gomer Pyle use to use the phrase "hey "; so I send a big "Hey" out to Edward and thank you for your continued interest in the Society.
There is new interest in the condition of the Southwest corner monument of South Dakota by the other states that share this corner. Seems the fence and sign at this site are in need of repair. The B.O.D. is gathering info and we hope to get involved with this project. Coming into this position of President I had wanted our society to go look at the other corners of the state. My thought was that if any of the members were in the area or wanted to make a special trip they would take a photo and write a bit about the site and getting there.  Share your story with the rest of us by sending the info to Janelle. I know retirees are busier than they were when working but maybe these folks can make a day trip and have an adventure to one of these boundary corners and see what if any monument exists. There are a minimum of 10 corners and then there are 2 initial points.  And from what I understand there is a secondary initial point for the 5th Principle Meridian in SD where the line coming from the south was not happening fast enough so by other means there was a point set along the base line located on the north line of Township 100. This supposedly causing a correction near the east state boundary line.  You history buffs might have this info and correct my statement here.
This activity of looking at the monuments of South Dakota is like fishing. Cast in your line and see what you pull in.
In my last message about highway knowledge I shared the history from prior to statehood to 1939. This was when the state legislature granted by law the State Department of Roads its right to securing its own right of ways. I had mentioned there seems to have been several ideas about how to record the title to the roads that were or had been platted.  Many of you may have experienced the highway plats of the 1930's to the 1980’s.   Some showed a location of the road along a section line or across a quarter section, some with measurements and angles and some with no measurements or angles.  Most of these plats used the theoretical distances of the section and true north bearings. The deeds used were a combination of warranty deeds and Highway use deeds.  Like today there are times when the road cuts a corner or leaves a severed piece of a landowner’s property on the other side of the road.  When requested by a landowner the state would add the severed piece to the highway deed as the "Cut Off" in the quarter section.   Unknown by me and maybe others is that someone realized the law about right of way in 1939 did not include the purchase of land, but "right of way" only.  So in 1961 the legislature passed another law (31-19-42 and 31-19-43) that allowed the DOT to purchase land as needed with respect to road and the lands that were severed by the highway. The lands that had been purchased as remnant cut offs prior to 1961 could not be considered the departments properties even though they show on a deed of record. It seems that case law points to the fact that the words “highway right of way” means the corridor on which the road is built and not those properties shown or described as remnant cut offs prior to 1961  (31-1-1).  The Counties and Municipalities were by law authorized to purchase remnants commonly called “uneconomic” in 1983 (31-19-41.1), but not fee simple right of way.
This is not the end of understanding right of way ownership.  The DOT was taken to court over a right of way disagreement and the ownership type the department felt it held with the 1939 law.   In a 1963 decision of the Supreme Court the DOT learned the meaning of the 1939 law. What came out of that legal battle was that the state did not have any more ownership than a perpetual highway easement and the landowner still held the fee simple rights to the land with the present 1939 law in place.  South Dakota Legislature passed another law finally in 1986 that the DOT could buy right of way in fee interest (31-19-42).  This law withheld this right from the cities and counties.  One exclusion to this new law was that if a right of way was taken by eminent domain then the state could only have that right of way as a highway use or perpetual easement.
Adverse possession applies to the needs of a highway.  If the public agency has had an established road in a location for twenty years then the land used to support the road corridor is established as 33 feet each side of the centerline of the road unless more is shown to be needed.  This may include backslopes, inslopes, culverts and areas between the fences (SDCL 31-3-1).  Again this right of way assumed by a public agency is presumed to be a perpetual highway easement.

In 2010 – House Bill 1214 changed SDCL 31-19-42 allowing the cities and counties to secure right of ways as fee interest.   Like the state they can purchase right of way in which ever means is needed or wanted (easement or fee).  Also law indicates that a dedicated street, alley, or road is owned as fee simple by the public.
Along the way there have been a number of other highway laws that have been created for utility companies that elect to be in the right of way. One allows the utility to stay in place even if the road moves to a new location without getting an easement or moving (31-19-1.2).

This brings me to an end for today.

There are facts in life that are true. Singer Roger Miller recorded for our enjoyment  in 1965 “ You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd”  I am not going to try to prove him wrong and I have also read the lyrics on the internet so this must be a true fact. 
2017 SDSPLS President Fred Leetch

South Dakota

Society of

Professional Land


PO Box 8154

Rapid City, South Dakota 57709