GEORGETOWN is both the District of Columbia’s oldest permanently-settled area and its most difficult by far to survey. A colonial Maryland tobacco port originally laid out before the French & Indian War, it pre-dates not only the founding of Washington but the United States of America itself. Today ‘Old George Town’ is a place of stately historic charm . . . filled with every boundary discrepancy known to law or surveying.
Most of Georgetown’s original plats haven’t been seen in more than two centuries. Its records are sometimes so ambiguous that expert title attorneys can’t even determine basic ownership. ‘Record’ and ‘Measured’ get so intertwined that ‘Measured’ becomes ‘Record.’ Nearly every Georgetown Square has unusual conditions that surveyors must recognize and treat with caution. DC’s Apportionment Statute – already unique in the nation - is different for Georgetown than anywhere else. And on top of all that, no training class has ever been held for land surveyors on how to deal with Georgetown . . . until now.
Please join DCALS Friday November 3, 2017 at Gallaudet University’s Kellogg Conference Center as we explore - for the first time - Surveying in Georgetown, DC. This advanced 8-hour session will benefit surveyors and all others who cope with tough boundary issues. It’ll help everyone seeking DC licenses. Taught by top professionals with decades of experience, this seminar features valuable new information recently discovered. Certificates for full Continuing Education Credits will be awarded. We urge you to attend.
- Who Owns the Land of the Easement. . . Surveyor-attorney James J. Demma grew up in Washington DC and fondly recalls the District of Columbia as it was in his youth. He went to grade school in Georgetown. It’s his old home town.
In his career as a licensed professional land surveyor and attorney he’s seen many confusing situations, where title examiners and attorneys searched the records in vain, only to finally admit they simply could not tell ‘Who Owns the Land or the Easement.’ Many such cases exist in Georgetown. But our American and English common law can usually solve such problems. To an attorney like Jim, there’s almost always a way to determine the correct underlying fee-simple title ownership. Jim will take some real-life situations from Georgetown and elsewhere – properties that defied initial title analysis – and show how the answers can be found
- The Long-Lost Early Surveys of Georgetown . . . Tiny colonial Georgetown was first laid out not by any surveyor, but by its town clerk in 1752. His defective original survey was re-done in 1758. Then between 1770 and 1825 Georgetown was enlarged to its present size by ten Additions. These were essentially private subdivisions added to the town. Laid out by various early surveyors skilled and unskilled, Georgetown’s Additions followed no master plan or regulations. Some of their plats made it into the Land Records - some didn’t. Is it any wonder that Georgetown has survey problems?
Most of Georgetown’s Addition Plats have been lost since the early 1800s. At DC Surveyors Office today, copies of Georgetown’s original 1752 and 1758 surveys are on file - but there’s not a single plat, among DCSO’s half-million survey records, of any Georgetown Addition. Early surveys from Washington City and Washington County are fairly well-preserved. Georgetown’s have almost completely vanished.
Retired DC land surveyor Chas Langelan agreed to undertake a first-ever search into the ‘History of Georgetown Surveying.’ Digging deep into original-source archive materials for months, he’s managed to unearth a considerable amount of new information never before researched or presented by anyone. He’s even found a number of ‘The Long-Lost Early Surveys of Georgetown.’ DCALS attendees on November 3 will be the first people in 200-years to see many of them.
- Solving Boundaries in Georgetown Today . . . Every Square in Georgetown, every property line in Georgetown, presents different surveying challenges. Many of the Alleys in Georgetown are private (although who owns them can be a real guess.) There are overlaps and gaps. There are old court decrees and ownership agreements (hopefully recorded.) There are known errors of 8, 10, 12 and even 16 feet in short stretches. Angles and distances are severely ‘out’ from Record – if the old records even show them at all. Deeds never say where plats are recorded. Most of all, there’s a different way of prorating in Georgetown. Sometimes it applies, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it applies in two directions.
DC registered land surveyor Alan Schiffer will join with Neal Isenstein of the DC Surveyors Office to present and explain some of Georgetown’s multiple surveying issues and how to tackle them. They’ll start off with a couple of fairly ‘straightforward’ Georgetown Squares – if such sites truly exist - then advance to a few which are more complex, and finally finish up with some of the most notoriously difficult Squares in all DC to survey . . . which of course are in Georgetown.
- 'SURDOCS' Records are now ON-LINE! . . . Many DC surveyors remember the ‘old days’ when prints were unobtainable from the DC Surveyors Office and every plat had to be laboriously hand-traced. Well, in April 2017 the DC Surveyors Office placed its world-class archive of nearly 500,000 DC survey records, all now digitally scanned in hi-resolution color, on-line for the entire world - free. DC Surveyor Rick Dreist was the person responsible. In addition to explaining how to access and obtain the specific records you need, he’ll tell the multi-year saga of what it took to accomplish this epochal step forward.
Seminar Details at a Glance . . .
DATE: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2017
PLACE: GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY’S KELLOGG CONFERENCE CENTER
800 Florida Avenue, NE, Washington DC 20002 202-651-6000
| Seminar Agenda
|7:00am - 8:00am
|| Registration Desk Open – Continental Breakfast
|8:00am - 9:30am
|| Who Owns the Land or the Easement? - James J. Demma, Esquire, Prof. LS
|9:30am - 9:50am
|| Morning Break with Refreshments
|9:50am - Noon
|| The Long-Lost Early Surveys of Georgetown - Chas Langelan, DCRLS (retired)
|Noon - 1:20pm
|| LUNCH – Gallaudet’s FEAST for hungry surveyors!
|1:20pm - 3:20pm
|| Solving Boundaries in Georgetown Today– Alan Schiffer, DCRLS, PE and
Neal Isenstein, DCSO
|3:20pm - 3:40pm
|| Afternoon Break with Refreshments
|3:40pm - 4:40pm
|| 'SURDOCS' Records Are Now Online – Rick Dreist, DCRLS DCSO
|4:40pm - 5:00pm
|| Outcome Measures and Continuing Education Certificates
CREDITS: 8- Professional Development Hours (PDHs); equivalent to
8- C E Unit Credit Hours (Virginia); equivalent to
8- Credits (Maryland)
COST: ‘Early-Bird’ registrations, received before midnight Sunday OCTOBER 29, 2017 . . .
DCALS Members . . . $249 Non-members . . . $299
($50 Additional for registrations received after midnight Sunday October 29, 2017.)
PARKING: FREE secure all-day garage parking on-campus for every attendee. DCALS will distribute a parking pass and you must display it in the windshield .
OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATIONS: Gallaudet University’s Kellogg Conference Center features a fine 93-room hotel.
Attendees are responsible for making their own overnight arrangements.
To reserve a room at Kellogg Conference Hotel call 202-651-6000.
QUESTIONS ABOUT REGISTRATION? Contact Events@DCALS.org
‘Land Surveying in the District of Columbia’ – DCALS Manuals . . .
AVAILABLE FOR SALE at our seminar will be DCALS’ 2010 and 2017 editions of “LAND SURVEYING in the DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.” Packed with useful information, these are the only books published about DC surveying. The District’s Professional Licensing Office has deemed our 2010 Manual its Official Study Guide for DC’s Land Surveying Exam. We’ll have it on sale for $75. And DCALS’ enhanced new 2017 Manual will also be available - $130 for members, $160 for non-members.
ABOUT OUR PRESENTERS . . .
- JAMES J. DEMMA, Esquire, Prof. LS, attorney-surveyor at Miles & Stockbridge, has been practicing law more than 45 years. He began his career as a rookie field surveyor, became a Maryland PLS and went to law school at night. After passing the bar in '72, he began teaching Boundary Law to land surveyors. Even though he's been a lawyer now for decades, he still has his surveyors license.
- ALAN M. SCHIFFER, PE & RLS of Datum-East, Inc, is one of the most respected boundary surveyors practicing in the District of Columbia today. A Stanford graduate with a Master’s degree in civil engineering, he has 39 years experience performing demanding survey projects in Washington DC, and is a skilled mathematician who developed special formulas for solving DC boundaries.
- NEAL ISENSTEIN of the DC Surveyors Office has spent his life figuring out complex DC boundaries, first in the private sector and now as Survey & Wall Check Coordinator at DCSO. Neal reviews all Official Surveys and Wall Tests, and probably knows more about the District’s immense archive of survey records than anyone else.
- ROLAND F. (‘RICK’) DREIST, RLS, Official DC Surveyor, is a Virginia and DC professional land surveyor with 31 years experience. He began his career in ’86, and was appointed Official Surveyor of the District of Columbia in 1998. Rick modernized the DC Surveyors Office and led the digital scanning effort of DCSO’s nearly half-a-million original survey documents.
- CHAS LANGELAN, RLS, is a retired professional land surveyor who practiced more than 40 years in Maryland and the District of Columbia. He ran a busy survey office on Capitol Hill before retiring in 2008. A charter officer of DCALS, he’s one of only two individuals (along with DC Surveyor Rick Dreist) to have served continuously on DCALS’ Board of Directors since its founding in 2001.