The system of plane coordinates which has been established by the United States coast and geodetic survey for defining and stating the positions or locations of points on the surface of the earth within the state of Alabama is hereafter to be known and designated as the 'Alabama coordinate system.' For the purpose of the use of this system the state is divided into an 'east zone' and a 'west zone.' The area now included in the following counties shall constitute the east zone: Barbour, Bullock, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Coffee, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Lee, Macon, Madison, Marshall, Montgomery, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Saint Clair, Talladega and Tallapoosa. The area now included in the following counties shall constitute the west zone: Autauga, Baldwin, Bibb, Blount, Butler, Chilton, Choctaw, Clarke, Colbert, Conecuh, Cullman, Dallas, Escambia, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Lowndes, Marengo, Marion, Mobile, Monroe, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Washington, Wilcox and Winston.
As established for use in the east zone, the Alabama coordinate system shall be named, and in any land description in which it is used it shall be designated, the 'Alabama coordinate system, east zone.' As established for use in the west zone, the Alabama coordinate system shall be named, and in any land description in which it is used it shall be designated, the 'Alabama coordinate system, west zone.'
There is hereby created, in the state department of conservation and natural resources, a division of land surveys, for the purpose of establishing, maintaining and preserving the land monuments, section corners and other physical accessories of the United States public land survey within Alabama and the field notes and plats and other documents connected therewith.
The division of land surveys shall be headed by and be under the direction, supervision and control of an officer who shall be designated 'chief of the division of land surveys.' He shall be appointed by the commissioner of conservation and natural resources, with the approval of the governor, with the additional requirement that he be a registered land surveyor within the state of Alabama with training and experience properly qualifying him for the performance of his official duties, and he shall be under and subject to the provisions of the state merit system.
Before entering upon the discharge of his duties, the chief of the division of land surveys shall take the constitutional oath of office. His salary shall be fixed by the state personnel board as it may deem appropriate or as otherwise fixed by law. He shall devote his full time to his official duties and shall hold no other lucrative position while serving as said chief of the division of land surveys.
The chief of the division of land surveys shall carry out the routine functions and duties of the division, as prescribed herein. He shall recommend for employment, including their compensation, such assistants, and employees as are required for the performance of the work of the division, within the provisions of the Merit System Act and the limits of the funds appropriated. Subject to approval of the commissioner of conservation and natural resources and through authorized personnel, he shall actively conduct such land surveys or geodetic or leveling surveys as may be necessary to properly locate section corners and boundaries, geodetic or Alabama coordinate horizontal control points or stations or precise level net bench mark stations and other monuments necessary to a proper and accurate description in real estate conveyancing. He shall cause to be placed permanent markers for all corners, bench marks, stations or boundaries. He shall perform such other work and acts as shall, in the judgment of the commissioner of conservation and natural resources, be necessary and proper to carry out the objectives of this article.
The commissioner of conservation and natural resources, acting by and through the chief of the division of land surveys, is hereby vested with the following functions, duties and responsibilities:
(1) To restore, maintain and preserve the land survey monuments, section corners and quarter section corners established by the United States public land survey within Alabama, together with all pertinent field notes, plats and documents; and also to restore, establish, maintain and preserve other boundary markers considered by the division to be of importance or otherwise established by law;
(2) To design and cause to be placed at established public land survey corner sites, where practical, substantial monuments permanently indicating, with words and figures, the exact location involved. If such monuments cannot be placed at the exact corner point, then witness corners of similar design shall be placed as near as possible, with words and figures indicating the bearing and distance to the true corner;
(3) To establish, maintain and provide safe storage facilities for a comprehensive system of recordation of information respecting all monuments established by the United States public land survey within this state and such records as may be pertinent to the division's establishment or maintenance of other land corners, Alabama coordinate system stations and accessories, and monuments in general;
(4) To extend throughout this state a triangulation and leveling net of precision whereby the Alabama state coordinate system, already initiated within this state by the United States coast and geodetic survey, may be made to cover to the necessary extent those areas of the state which do not now have enough geodetic control stations to permit the general use of the system by land surveyors and others;
(5) To collect and preserve information obtained from surveys made by those authorized to establish land monuments or land boundaries and to assist in the proper recording of the same by the duly constituted county officials, or otherwise;
(6) To furnish, upon reasonable request and tender of the required fees therefor, certified copies of records created or maintained by the division. When certified by the chief of the division of land surveys or a designated assistant, the records shall be admissible in evidence in any court in this state as the original record; and
(7) To prescribe and disseminate to those engaged in the business of land surveying, regulations designed to establish uniform professional surveying and mapping methods and standards in this state.
There is hereby created an advisory board to the division of land surveys, the membership of which shall consist of five members appointed by the governor. One member shall be a landowner in the state of Alabama; two shall be registered land surveyors and members of the Alabama society of professional land surveyors within Alabama; one an Alabama professional engineer and registered land surveyor; and the fifth an Alabama citizen who is an attorney. All members except the landowner shall be appointed by the governor from a list of three names for each position on the board submitted by the Alabama society of professional land surveyors.
Of the five members first appointed to the division of land surveys advisory board, one shall be appointed for a term of one year, one for two years, one for three years and two for four years. At the expiration of the term of each member, the governor shall appoint a successor, who shall hold office for a term of four years and until his successor has been appointed and qualified. Vacancies in the office of the members of the advisory board shall be filled by appointment by the governor for the unexpired term in the manner provided in section 35-2-25.
Members of the advisory board, upon induction into office, shall take the customary oath of office to support the Constitution of the United States, and that of Alabama, and to faithfully demean themselves in office. They shall serve without compensation, but each shall be reimbursed for travel and other expenses incurred in the performance of his duties in accordance with article 2 of chapter 7 of Title 36 of this Code.
Members of the advisory board shall choose one of its five members as chairman. The board shall meet at least four times a year, and the chairman shall determine the time and place for any special meeting. Regular meetings shall be held as agreed upon by members of the board.
The advisory board shall assist the commissioner of conservation and natural resources and the chief of the division of land surveys in formulating the policies of said division in the performance of its functions and duties and shall advise the commissioner of conservation and natural resources concerning any matter relating to the functions and duties of said division.
The plane coordinates of a point on the earth's surface, to be used in expressing the position or location of such point in the appropriate zone of this system, shall consist of two distances, expressed in feet and decimals of a foot. One of these distances, to be known as the 'x-coordinate,' shall give the position in an east-and-west direction; the other, to be known as the 'y-coordinate,' shall give the position in a north-and-south direction. These coordinates shall be made to depend upon and conform to the coordinates, on the Alabama coordinate system, of the triangulation and traverse stations of the United States coast and geodetic survey within the state of Alabama, as those coordinates have been determined by said survey.
The department of conservation and natural resources, division of land surveys, may acquire in the name of the state of Alabama lands or interests therein, where necessary, to establish permanent monuments, and may lease or purchase or acquire by negotiation land, if necessary, for the establishment of an office of the division, which shall be at or near the capitol complex in the city of Montgomery.
The custody and ownership of the original United States public land survey corners and accessories has never been released or surrendered by the state of Alabama. These survey corners and their accessories are property of the state of Alabama. This includes all restorations and replacements of the original corners and all their accessories, witness trees and objects as well. The alteration, removal, disfiguration or destruction of any of the corners or accessories, without specific permission of the division of land surveys, is an act of destruction of state property and is punishable as a misdemeanor.
Members of the advisory board, the chief of the division of land surveys or any and all employees of the division shall have the right to enter upon private property for the purpose of making surveys or for searching for, locating, relocating or remonumenting land monuments, leveling stations or section corners. Should any of these persons necessarily damage property of the owner in making the surveys or searches or remonumentations, the division may make reasonable payment for the damage through the state board of adjustment. However, members of the advisory board or any employees of the division are personally liable for any damage caused by their wantonness, willfulness or negligence. All members of the advisory board and all division employees are immune from arrest for trespass in performing their legal duties as stated in this article, by presenting cards issued by the division giving the persons or employees permission so to enter private property.
On request of the chief of the division of land surveys, all probate judges or other recorders of deeds, mortgages or other instruments dealing with any interest in real property, together with all departments, boards or agencies of state government, county or city government shall furnish to the division of land surveys certified copies of desired records which are in their custody. This service shall be free of cost when possible; otherwise it shall be at actual cost of reproduction of the records. On the same basis of cost, the division shall furnish records within its custody to other agencies or departments of state, county or city, certifying them. Copies of records of the division, when so certified by the chief of the division, shall be admitted in evidence, without further identification, in any court proceeding in the state if the substance of the record is properly admissible in the proceeding.
Every employee of the division of land surveys who is engaged in work required by law to be done by a registered land surveyor will be so registered. No employee of the division shall engage in private land surveying or consultation while so employed by the division.
The division of land surveys may produce, reproduce and sell maps, plats, reports, studies and records and shall fix the charge therefor. All income received from the sales shall be promptly deposited in the state treasury to the credit of the 'land surveys fund,' which is hereby established.
Whenever the division of land surveys deems it expedient and when funds appropriated permit, the division shall have the power to enter into contracts with agencies of the United States, with agencies of sister states or with private persons, registered land surveyors or professional engineers, in order to plan and execute other projects that are within the scope and purpose of this article.
Under no circumstances shall the total amount of warrants issued by the comptroller in payment of the expense and compensation provided for in this article exceed the amount provided therefor by the legislature in the general appropriation or other appropriation bills.
This article shall not be construed as to authorize or require the division of land surveys to survey or resurvey the entire state of Alabama. However, the division may perform such surveys as it may, from time to time, deem necessary to fulfill the purposes of this article.
When any tract of land to be defined by a single description extends from one into the other of the above coordinate zones, the positions of all points on its boundaries may be referred to either of the two zones, the zone which is used being specifically named in the description.
(a) For purposes of more precisely defining the Alabama coordinate system, the following definition by the United States coast and geodetic survey is adopted: The Alabama coordinate system, east zone, is a transverse Mercator projection of the Clarke spheroid of 1866, having a central meridian 85 degrees 50' west from Greenwich, on which meridian the scale is set one part in 25,000 too small. The origin of coordinates is at the intersection of the meridian 85 degrees 50' west longitude and the parallel 30 degrees 30' north latitude. This origin is given the coordinates: x = 500,000 feet and y = 0 feet. The Alabama coordinate system, west zone, is a transverse Mercator projection of the Clarke spheroid of 1866, having a central meridian 87 degrees 30' west from Greenwich, on which meridian the scale is set one part in 15,000 too small. The origin of coordinates is at the intersection of the meridian 87 degrees 30' west longitude and the parallel 30 degrees 00' north latitude. This origin is given the coordinates: x = 500,000 feet and y = 0 feet.
(b) The position of the Alabama coordinate system shall be as marked on the ground by triangulation or traverse stations established in conformity with standards adopted by the United States coast and geodetic survey for first-order and second-order work, whose geodetic positions have been rigidly adjusted on the North American Datum of 1927, and whose coordinates have been computed on the system herein defined. Any such station may be used for establishing a survey connection with the Alabama coordinate system.
Any person, or his administrator, executor or guardian, desiring to subdivide his lands into lots shall cause the same to be surveyed by a competent surveyor, if not already surveyed, and shall cause a plat or map thereof to be made, showing the subdivisions into which it is proposed to divide the same, giving the length and bearings of the boundaries of each lot and its number; and, if it is the purpose of the owner to divide the lands into town lots, such plat or map shall show the streets, alleys and public grounds and give the bearings, length, width and name of each street, as well as the number of each lot and block. Such plat or map must show the relation of the lands so platted or mapped to the government survey.
(a) The plat or map having been completed shall be certified by the surveyor, which certificate must also be signed by the owner, his duly authorized agent or attorney, executor, administrator or guardian and acknowledged by such owner, agent or attorney, in the same manner in which deeds are required to be acknowledged. The plat or map, together with the certificate of the surveyor and acknowledgment, shall be recorded in the office of the judge of probate in the county in which the lands are situated, in a suitable book to be kept for that purpose; and such acknowledgment and record shall have like effect and certified copies thereof and of such plat or map may be used in evidence to the same extent and with like effect as in the case of deeds.
(b) The acknowledgment and recording of such plat or map shall be held to be a conveyance in fee simple of such portion of the premises platted as are marked or noted on such plat or map as donated or granted to the public, and the premises intended for any street, alleyway, common or other public use, as shown in such plat or map, shall be held in trust for the uses and purposes intended or set forth in such plat or map.
It shall be the duty of every probate judge in this state to decline to receive for record in his office any map or plat upon which any lands lying within the corporate limits or police jurisdiction of any city of this state having a population of more than 10,000 inhabitants are platted or mapped as streets, alleys or other public ways, unless such map or plat shall have noted thereon the approval of the governing body or city engineer of such city.
Any plat or map, whether or not executed and recorded as provided in this article, may be vacated by the owner, his executor, administrator or guardian of the lands at any time before the sale of any lot therein by a written instrument declaring the same to be vacated, executed, acknowledged and recorded in like manner as conveyances of land which declaration, being duly recorded, shall operate to destroy the force and effect of the recording of the plat or map so vacated and to divest all public rights in the streets, alleys and public grounds and all dedications laid out or described in such plat or map. When lots have been sold, the plat or map may be vacated, in the manner herein provided by all the owners of lots in such plat or map joining in the execution of such writing.
Any street or alley shown by any map, plat or survey, whether such map or plat is executed and recorded as provided by law or not, may be vacated, in whole or in part, by the owner or owners of the lands abutting the street or alley (or that portion of the street or alley desired to be vacated), or their executors, administrators or guardian, joining in a written instrument declaring the same to be vacated, such written instrument to be executed, acknowledged and recorded in like manner as conveyances of land, which declaration being duly recorded shall operate to destroy the force and effect of the dedication by the map, plat or survey and to divest all public rights, including any rights which may have been acquired by prescription, in that part of the street or alley so vacated. If any such street or alley is within the limits of any municipality, the assent of the mayor and aldermen or other governing body of the municipality must be procured, evidenced by a resolution adopted by such governing body, a copy of which, certified by the clerk or ministerial officer in charge of the records of the municipality must be attached to, filed and recorded with the written declaration of vacation. Convenient means of ingress and egress to and from their property shall be afforded to all other property owners owning property in the tract of land embraced in the map, plat or survey, either by the remaining streets and alleys dedicated by such map, plat or survey or by any other street or alley being dedicated. If such street or alley has been or is being used as a public road and outside of any municipality, the assent of the county commission of the county in which the property is situated must be procured, evidenced by resolution adopted by such county commission, a copy of which, certified by the presiding officer thereof, must be attached thereto, filed and recorded with the declaration of vacation.
Every change in location, or vacation, or attempted vacation of any road, street, avenue or alley, or any part thereof, by the owner or owners of lands abutting thereon, or upon which such road, street, avenue or alley is located, when such vacation, or attempted vacation, or change of location was in a city or town and was assented to, acquiesced in or authorized by the governing body thereof (or if it was without a city or town when such vacation, or attempted vacation, or change of location when made was assented to, acquiesced in, or authorized by the county commission, or which has been or may be hereafter ratified or confirmed by the county commission) is and shall be validated, ratified and confirmed, and all rights of the public in any such road, street, avenue or alley, or the part thereof so vacated, or attempted to be vacated, including all rights acquired by prescription, are and shall be relinquished or abandoned.
Where land has been divided into lots, and the map or plat thereof mutilated, lost or mislaid, and a part or all of the lots indicated therein have been sold, the owner thereof may cause a new survey to be made and a plat or map to be made therefrom, or reproduce the one mutilated, lost or mislaid, from a survey already made, which new plat or map, if certified, acknowledged and recorded as required by law, shall have the same effect in all respects as a plat or map recorded under section 35-2-50 and may be vacated in the same manner and under the same conditions as plats or maps may be vacated.
When a map or plat or part thereof is vacated, the judge of probate must, upon recording such vacation, write in plain letters across the record of the map or plat, or the part so vacated, the word 'vacated' and shall also refer on the same to the volume and page in which the instrument of vacation is recorded.
The circuit courts of this state shall have jurisdiction and power to vacate and annul any map, plat or survey of lands, or any streets, alleys, avenues or roads, whether designated by any such maps, plats or surveys or not, upon the filing of a civil action by any person or persons owning any of the lots, parcels or tracts of land abutting such roads, streets or alleys sought to be vacated or annulled. Unless the owners of all the lots or parcels of land so abutting upon the roads, streets or alleys sought to be vacated join as plaintiffs, the owners and claimants of such other lots or parcels of land abutting upon the roads, streets or alleys sought to be vacated shall be made parties defendant; and the municipality, town or city, if the land is located within any municipality, town or city, shall also be made a party defendant; and, if not located in such municipality, city or town, the county in which such lands are located shall be made a party defendant.
The proceedings for vacating and annulling such maps, plats, surveys, roads, streets or alleys shall be conducted in all respects as civil actions are conducted and the circuit court may prescribe all rules and regulations for the conduct of such proceedings which are not inconsistent with the laws of this state or rules promulgated by the supreme court. Upon the final hearing of the action, the court may grant the relief prayed in the complaint in whole or in part, or may deny such relief in whole or in part. An appeal will lie from such judgment of the circuit court, as is authorized or provided from other judgments of the circuit court; and upon such hearing, the appellate court may affirm, reverse or render such judgment or order as the trial court should have rendered.
No coordinates based on the Alabama coordinate system, purporting to define the position of a point on a land boundary, shall be presented to be recorded in any public land records or deed records unless such point is within one-half mile of a triangulation or traverse station established in conformity with the standards prescribed in section 35-2-5; provided, that said one-half mile limitation may be modified by the secretary of state to meet local conditions. The secretary of state shall, from time to time, procure descriptions of monuments, bench marks and markers, etc., as same may become available, relative to the Alabama coordinate system, and shall keep a complete record of this information in the office of the secretary of state. The secretary of state shall make and furnish certified copies thereof to each of the probate judges of the several counties in Alabama. It shall be the duty of the probate judge of each county to file and keep a permanent record with proper indexes of such information which shall be available to the public.
If the final judgment or order of the court provides that any map, plat, survey, road, street or alley shall be vacated or annulled in whole or in part, the petition or complaint, together with the final order or judgment of the court, shall be recorded in the office or offices in which the map, plat or survey showing such roads, streets or alleys are recorded, and the order or judgment of the court shall not be final until such petition, complaint, order or judgment is so recorded.
The party filing such petition, complaint, order or judgment for recording and registration shall pay the recording or registration officer a fee of $.15 per 100 words for so recording or registering such documents in such office.
The remedies provided in this article for vacating maps, plats, surveys, streets, alleys, etc., shall not be held to be exclusive, but alternative or cumulative.
The use of the term 'Alabama coordinate system' on any map, report of survey or other document shall be limited to coordinates based on the Alabama coordinate system as defined in this article.
Whenever coordinates based on the Alabama coordinate system are used to describe any tract of land which in the same document is also described by reference to any subdivision, line or corner of the United States public land surveys, the description by coordinates shall be construed as supplemental to the basic description of such subdivision, line or corner contained in the official plats and field notes filed of record; and, in the event of any conflict, the description by reference to the subdivision, line or corner of the United States public land surveys shall prevail over the description by coordinates.
In order to facilitate acquirement of easements by watershed associations, water conservancy associations or districts and any other lawful entity engaged in water and soil conservation work, the probate judges of the several counties of the state of Alabama shall receive and record aerial photographs or maps of land areas in their respective counties. These maps or photographs shall be recorded, kept and maintained in substantially the same manner as prescribed in section 35-2-51. Before being recorded, such a map or photograph may have drawn or inscribed thereon its source of origin, the approximate scale of the map, section and township lines, property lines, high-water marks for channels and storage areas for water, and soil conservation tract or parcel numbers and boundaries and all such other indicia or information as may be appropriate for identification of the land areas represented by the map.
Before being recorded, all such photographs or maps must have been presented to the county engineer of the county where the land area represented is located. Upon his being satisfied as to the purpose of the recording of such map or photograph and as to the information inscribed thereon, he shall note his approval and affix thereto his signature. This procedure shall constitute all the requirements necessary for recording; and, after the approval of the county engineer, the map or photograph shall be received and recorded by the appropriate probate judge without any charge or fee. After recording, such maps or photographs may be lawfully used as references in easements or other instruments of conveyance.
This article is cumulative.
Nothing contained in this article shall require any purchaser or mortgagee to rely on a description, any part of which depends exclusively upon the Alabama coordinate system.