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What Are Parcel Maps?

Oct 23, 2007
Parcel maps are drawings of the land cadastre for all private and public lands. Cadastre refers to ownership boundaries and often includes the tenure, precise location, ownership, value, and dimensions of specific parcels of land.

Drawn to a variety of scales, parcel maps can be simple and general in design or very precise and detailed. The most simple of map designs will show a very basic schematic representation or layout of the basic land cadastre, whereas the most complex will include a finely detailed representation.

Since most parcel maps are drawn up at the local level, the standards used for their development vary widely. Hence, the existence of a disparate group of depictions for parcel maps. In fact, the purpose for each parcel map often determines the manner in which it will be drawn up. Some of the reasons motivating the drawing up of parcel maps include the movement of natural boundaries that have been used for boundary identification, administrative boundaries, the depiction of varying levels of interest in the parcel, and the attempt to show more than one parcel under the same ownership.

Parcel maps are generally related in some way to the document containing the legal description of the land. These documents include the information that makes up the record for describing the boundary ownership for given parcels of land. The line work and text on the parcel map can include subdivision name, right-of-way identification, lot lines, lot dimensions, page references, and parcel acreage. The purpose of parcel maps extends beyond the indication of ownership when they include positional accuracy, cultural information, and physical details.

Parcel maps often include the identification numbers to the land, the parcel dimensions, and streets and the street names. All of the shown information is typically used to locate and identify property. Parcel identification numbers are given to specific parcels to aid in their recognition. They are often used on tax assessment maps as well.

The existence of parcel maps in the private sector can be useful to appraisers, attorneys, engineers, surveyors, and corporations. Parcel maps have been developed at a variety of governmental levels as well as in the private sector. The existence of parcel maps can ease the governmental burden of zoning, site development, administrative tasks, the design of roadways, the construction of public works, and the control of lake and stream erosion. Tax parcel maps are one of the most common. This type of parcel map is typically used for describing properties that are linked by tax bills, ownership, or assessment.
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