Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program 


Final Report Carlton County
Thomson Township and the City of Cloquet
Parcel Layer Mapping Project


Submitted by: Yvonne R. Anderson
Information Systems Supervisor


June 30, 2009

    Project No.  306‐12‐09    Contract No.  B03566     

This project was funded in part under the Coastal Zone Management Act, by NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in cooperation with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.














INTRODUCTION The project was to digitally map all platted and unplatted property in Thomson Township and the City of Cloquet. The digital GIS parcel layer is a spatial representation of a legal description linked to many attributes about the property. Thomson Township and the City of Cloquet represent approximately 48% of Carlton County’s population. Carlton County’s intent was to build and maintain a county-wide seamless GIS parcel layer. WORK COMPLETED The gathering of data began October of 2007. To initially start the process of creating a geodatabase of cadastral information, corner information had to be collected. Researchers from Carlton County, Pro-West & Associates (PWA), LHB, and the Fond du Lac Reservation compiled written documentation along with PLS corner points that were collected by means of GPS devices. With as much corner information that could be found, the process of collecting plats and parcels begun. Plats from the Auditor’s office were scanned by County employees and sent to PWA to become part of the geodatabase. The plats also assisted PWA in creating a more accurate representation of the PLS system by aiding in corner locations that had limited accuracy. The survey records include the corner certificates, corner cards, PLSS corner and county monument tie sheets, also recorded plats. The location recorded was within sub-1.67 feet of its actual location. Beyond the PLS system and plats, parcels were created. Information from the County’s tax system (AS400) was sent on a regular basis to PWA. This AS400 database contained the parcel number and the metes and bounds description for each parcel, in which each parcel was created and attributed. Throughout the project, land changes occurred. When a parcel had a change in its identification number or when a parcel was split and/or joined with another parcel these changes were documented to ensure the most up to date information was being created. The county also provided scanned rail road plats and documentation to provide the highest amount of accuracy as to where the rail lines lay and how surrounding parcels are affected by these areas. Even those rail lines that have been abandoned over time were of importance for creating an accurate representation for recreational purposes, such as the Willard Munger State Trail. With rail lines created within the project area, they will be very useful tool in aiding future development. Updated road data was of importance to the county. Road location maps and plan – profiles from the County Highway Department were provided to form a starting point. Roads were verified as they were geocoded , plats were created, and plan – profile information included. To coincide with the road centerlines, right of way polygons were also created.

During the working stages of creating the geodatabase, discrepancies would arise. Discrepancies would be present in many forms from parcel overlaps and gaps to limited legibility of plats. When these discrepancies would come about, they were documented. The County would research to correct the discrepancies. Some would require limited research while others required extensive data searching through past County records. Once a resolution was found for a discrepancy it was corrected. The County maintains the geodatabase correcting those discrepancies that still existed. RESULTS Carlton County has completed a county wide seamless parcel layer outside of the MLSCP which was funded by Carlton County resources and including the County Recorder’s compliance fund. In conjunction with the grant area and the remainder of the County, the County has implemented WebFusion – an interactive mapping program designed for users to locate different types of features, run buffers, and create mailing labels and reports. The user may search for parcels and apply different database controls for different scales. Tools that are available include searching by name and parcel, pan and zoom, printing of a map. The County is currently developing a GIS policy for deployment of the data to cities and townships and the public. The geodatabase has become a valuable tool for the county’s own use on a daily basis. A future plan will be to obtain data from the cities and townships of their utilities and apply this to our current database. The resulting product of all the work performed is an original geodatabase containing 23 feature classes. The large amount of data contained in the geodatabase has lead to several results. The 23 feature classes include: Townships, subdivisions, streams, sections, right of ways, road centerlines, rail roads, quarters, quarter quarters, political townships, pls lines, parcels, parcel annotation, lot annotation, municipalities, lots, lease sites, lakes, historical plats, county boundary, corner points, boundary lines, blocks. Beyond the use of the data in WebFusion, the County’s GIS Specialist has used the data as a base in production of maps and several new shapefiles/feature classes. Several new feature classes have been created from the base layers including: Zoning districts, lake and stream classifications, Fond du Lac Reservation boundary lines, cabin lease sites, and many others.

The final product of information has been a valuable asset to the County in aiding the community in understanding land location. From WebFusion land owners have been able to view their parcel information at different County offices. Individuals viewing their land from a different perspective that WebFusion offers , it enables them to have a better understanding of their property lines, vegetation, and wetlands. With the public viewing their information it has lead to some land disputes in which the County has to do further research in corner location. Even though being a negative outcome at first, the result will be a positive in the County being aware of the problem and collecting further information to improve its data.

The data has provided quick and accurate responses to community emergencies. The County was contacted by an outside agency asking for a map representing a potential area of concern and all the addresses of the properties that could be affected. With the creation of the geodatabase a map with addressing was created very quickly and emailed to the agency. Without the geodatabase, hand sketches would have had to been scanned and owner information would have had to been researched, making a response to the emergency very lengthy. CONCLUSIONS Customized map creation has become very common. The recent Hell’s Angels event called for several customized maps to be created for law enforcement purposes. With all the features that are in the geodatabase maps were easy to create to meet their needs. Any updates or changes that were needed to the maps were quick to accomplish due to update due to all the information being compiled into one area. Beyond GIS, the creation of road centerlines with addressing has allowed the County to use a mapping program for 911 dispatch – Maverick Mapping. Maverick Mapping is a program which displays a map of the county and when a call is received a mark is put on the map allowing the dispatcher to guide emergency personnel to the scene. With having accurate centerlines to use in Maverick Mapping response time and accuracy has been a valuable tool for law enforcement and other emergency personnel As a pilot with our data we have given the City of Cloquet the data and we receive feedback on how they can now verify their data to the County data. Carlton County has a new zoning permitting system and by utilizing the data they can generate labels and maps for Thomson Township on septic permits and zoning permits if the property is within the shore land district. Processing the data has turned up discrepancies in parcels. These parcels are reviewed against the legal description and are either corrected if appropriate or left as a discrepancy pending on the land owner. An example is included as to what the actual parcel drawing identifies and where structures actually exist. The project has provided for better planning and enforcement of comprehensive land-use plans, water and wetland plans, ordinances, regulations, and statutes. As the County develops a GIS policy, access to this data will be accessible to the cities and the townships and in the future in a limited form to the public.

APPENDICES The following is a screen shot of our WebFusion product in the City of Cloquet. The map layers that are available are on the left of the map.

The following is a map created utilizing ESRI ArcEditor of Thomson Township that was developed to be used by our Law Enforcement Division.

The following is a map created with ESRI ArcEditor showing a discrepancy, the parcels should follow the pink lines instead of the narrow black ones where they lay now.

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