When subdivisions are being designed they tend to plan for areas of
public access to such things as water, sewer, electrical utilities, etc.
These areas are called “easements.” Although the legal title to the
land that lies underneath these easements is retained by the property
owner, the existence of an easement still grants the right for others to
access this piece of land. So why are these easements important?
Answers may vary but for the City of Park Ridge, IL it is about the
legality of allowing workers to access this piece of land in order to
complete their assigned tasks. These workers may be private contractors
or city employees just looking to repair an electrical problem or fix
an issue with a water line that was installed years. Nonetheless, the
land they are accessing is not considered trespassing.
It is easy to see the importance of easements but it is not always so
easy to locate them in the real world. Easements are not usually
marked out in the field so it is up to either public knowledge or
consulting an existing subdivision plat to find out where they exist.
In the City of Park Ridge they have started to use the Geographical
Information System (GIS) to map out these locations based on what the
final subdivision plats have designated. As these easements are located
and mapped out, they will then be posted on the City’s interactive web
mapping application so users can find them easily. Although the data
collection process is lengthy, the amount of time that will be saved
versus having to look these easements up manually is invaluable. For
the comparison would have users searching through many uncategorized
plats to find what they need. Proof that an easement exists will now be
quicker and easier to access when a resident inquires about workers on
their property thanks to GIS.