Monday, February 9, 2009

Surveyors Face Penalties for Elevation Certificates

By Jessica Holloway
KFDM-TV News - Beaumont,Texas,USA
February 9, 2009 - 6:34 PM

Two Southeast Texas surveyors will be penalized for mistakes in determining the elevation of homes in West Jefferson County. KFDM News has learned one of those surveyors is Anthony Leger from SouTex surveyors in Port Arthur. The board has not released the name of the other surveyor but decided they both broke at least five board rules.

The US Geological Survey identifies benchmarks and sets elevations. FEMA uses that information for its flood maps. Surveyors are required to use FEMA's numbers. In this case, FEMA changed the elevation of areas in Jefferson County by three feet. However, many surveyors were not made aware of the change. At least 160 homeowners want to take advantage of a government buy-out because of questions about elevation.

"FEMA didn't bother telling anybody about it. They were relying on information they had. It was erroneous," said Tom Roebuck.

Many people who live in the Country Road Estates neighborhood found out their home elevations were off by three feet. One of the people who helped bring that to light was in fact, Anthony Leger. Now he and others could face penalties, ranging from a fine all the way to the maximum, license revocation. Garey Gilley with the Texas Board of Land Surveying says that's unlikely.

"I do not believe it will be the maximum. I assure you it will not be revocation of license. We'd have to demonstrate they knowingly disregarded over time," said Garey Gilley.

Staff members should make a final decision by Tuesday. Others who want to file complaints can do so by filling out a complaint form on-line at the board's website. If the surveyors are found in violation, they'll face the same penalties.