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.