Glossary of Surveying Terms
Zoning Analysis / Consults
An initial review of a property, its location, zoning designation and the rules and regulations in that municipality that can restrict the use and development of the property. It may also include any additional agency, department or authority that may have additional permitting or regulatory oversight of specific actions on a property.
A map or plat of a major subdivision (5 lots or more) that is filed with the County and requires local Town or Village Planning Board approval, and County Health Department, Public Works Department and Planning Commission approvals, and is filed with the County Assessors Office. A minor subdivision (4 lots or less) requires local municipality approval and County Planning Commission approval. The map must include existing and proposed lot lines, zoning data, and also any individual Planning Board requirements.
Each local building department has its own process for regulating all structures whether principle dwelling, accessory structure (garage or cabana) or, legalizing prior construction. An individualized approach is determined in submitting plans and permit applications, and includes follow-up contact with clerks, Building Inspectors, and Village and Town Engineers.
Planning Board / Zoning Board Representation
Many municipalities have, as part of the permitting process for some structures, a public hearing. A project that does not comply with current zoning regulations would also require a public hearing to seek relief from those requirements. Neighbors within a prescribed distance would be mailed a notice of this public hearing. An applicant or their representative (their civil engineer and/or attorney) would need to present the plan in person, explaining the proposed construction and answer questions. In the case of a zoning hearing, there is New York State Law that governs the criteria a zoning board uses to make a decision on a variance and an applicant should present the proposal in accordance with that criteria.
A radius map shows surrounding properties and streets within a prescribed distance from a subject property. The owners of the surrounding properties and their mailing addresses are gathered from tax and deed records and are also included on the map or included as a separate document. Public hearing notices are mailed to each surrounding owner.
A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wetlands permit is required for any construction within their jurisdiction. This jurisdiction includes all wetlands and work within 100 feet of a freshwater wetland or 300 feet of a saltwater wetland. There are some circumstances where the jurisdiction ends less than these prescribed distances. In those cases a letter of non-jurisdiction is a usual requirement of the local building authority prior to the issuance of a building permit.
A title survey is a map of the property for conveyance or legal purposes showing improvements (house, driveways, patios, swimming pool, etc.) and encumbrances (easements, right-of-ways, etc.). A title survey may include written guarantee notes of the names of the purchaser, bank lender, and title company.
Topographic Map / Tree Location
A topographic survey or “topo map” shows the grading and slopes of the land, typically with elevation contours and/or spot grades. It is often accompanied with a tree survey locating all trees with a caliper (trunk diameter) of a certain size, and labeled tree species as prescribed by the local building authority.
A survey map with plotted lines showing the boundary of a designated wetland in accordance with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Guidelines for Freshwater and Saltwater Wetlands Boundary.
Elevation Certificate/Windstorm Certification
The Federal Emergency Management Agency administers the flood insurance program and requires an Elevation Certificate Form for each residence. Form reporting requirements include field survey measurements of the grades at the house and all floor elevations, along with required photographs. The Flood Zone is determined from the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and is also part of the elevation certificate.
Windstorm certification is a New York State program. The NY form requires an engineer’s site inspection, and a report on site data and conditions.
A markout on the ground of the location of a proposed structure, usually done with offset stakes, i.e. stakes located two foot from a specific line of planned construction. A markout may include the first floor elevation or benchmark set for the proper depth of excavation.
After a complete property survey is performed, or survey control of one property area is established, property lines can be set as a wood stake, or concrete monument, pipe or other marker as field condition dictates. In-line stakes may also be placed for fences, construction or clearing.
An engineering plan of a property that shows existing conditions and the proposed construction with proposed re-grading, proposed drainage and proposed soil erosion control measures and their respective construction details, in accordance with local building authority requirement. May also require topography data with contour lines included to illustrate elevation slopes.
For properties that are not in a sewer district, an on-site sanitary system is required. Most sanitary systems comprise a septic tank and leaching pools sized to the residence. In Suffolk County, all permits must be filed though the Suffolk County Health Department and plans must comply with those requirements. In Nassau County, most residential system permits are filed though the local Town or Village building department, and must be certified by a licensed Professional Engineer.
Drainage requirements vary depending on Village, Town or County jurisdiction. All rain runoff must be contained on-site, with engineering volume calculations illustrated in a plan.
Retaining Walls / Bulkheads
Requirements may vary, typically all retaining walls 2 (two) feet or higher need permits and all walls 4 (four) feet or more are required to have site plans with calculations for factor of safety for sliding and overturning. Some municipalities regulate boulder embankments as retaining walls. Bulkheads are regulated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation when they are located within 300’ feet of saltwater wetlands. They can be constructed with wood or composite piles, steel or composite sheet piles, or dead men with wailers. Most require a NYS DEC wetlands permit, Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permit, a New York State Department of Consistency Permit, and a building permit from the local building authority.
A drawing that specifies the size, dimension and materials for concrete foundations with reinforcing that can include piles, pile caps or underpinning based on soil boring data from site.
Storm water Pollution Protection Plan (SWPPP) Pronounced "swip"
In New York State, when more than one acre of land is disturbed on a site, a stormwater plan or SWPPP is required to be submitted to the local permitting Village or Town. A SWPPP illustrates soil erosion control measures and runoff containment plans for the construction period and post construction period. When a SWPPP plan is approved by the local municipality, a “Notice of Intent” is submitted to the NY State DEC.
Structural / Framing
Architectural plans for construction purposes based on structural components or requirements. A small plan detailing the design of a single header may be required in an interior design project. On a large scale, complete structural plans provide construction details for wood framing, composite beams or steel framing and columns. Allowable stress and limit deflection is used to calculate safe and practical solutions. Where design style and aesthetics and required, an architect designer should be consulted.
Environmental Assessment Form (EAF)
A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation EAF is often required as part of a project subject to the NY State Environmental Quality Review Act. The form is a questionnaire related to the scope of the project and any existing environmentally sensitive aspects to the property, project or surrounding area. Data from the NYS DEC database, US Geological survey and NYS DEC Natural Heritage Program may also be included.
239 F Review
Article 239 F in Nassau County Law Code requires a Nassau County review of any project which abuts a property owned by the county, such as a road or drainage reserve area. All project work must comply with Nassau County standards. A project site plan is submitted to the Nassau County Department of Public Works for this review.