Thursday, September 29, 2011

Plans on the new MassLandRecords

Sometime over this coming weekend, the new version of will become the default landing spot when you visit that site.  The "old" version will still be available, but you will have to specifically click on a link to reach it and that will only be there until January 1, 2012 when it will be completely discontinued.

In a blog post last week, I offered some guidance on different ways to search for Recorded Land documents.  Today, I'll write about finding Recorded Land Plans:

Start by moving your cursor over the "search criteria" item on the upper menu bar.  That opens a window that contains all search options.  Recorded Land Plans, simply labelled Plans, has six options

  • Name Search
  • Book (Year) Search
  • Document Search
  • Property Search
  • Recorded Date Search
  • Unindexed Property Search
The surest way to retrieve a plan is by its Plan Book and Plan number.  If you know these numbers, use the Book (Year) Search option.  The easiest way to find the Plan Book and Plan numbers is reading the deed or other document that contains a property description.  If the parcel described is depicted on a plan someplace, it should be cited in there in the property description section of the document. 

The plan index's Name Search and Property Search functions are not all that helpful because both are added to the index early in the parcel's development history.  For example, the Name placed in the index will be of the person for whom the plan was prepared, assuming that's mentioned in the caption of the plan.  That could be the XYZ Construction Company, for example, which would be a name way back in the property's chain of ownership and not one you would immediately search for.  The Property Search function suffers from another problem.  When a plan is recorded, we enter into this field the names of any streets depicted on the plan.  Because subdivision plans are typically recorded before anything is built on the property, the numbering of the lots depicted on the plan has nothing to do with the number that becomes part of the street address of the property.  If you're interested in 700 Main Street, for example, it's unlikely there will be any "700" in the index.  The best you can do is search for plans for MAIN ST which might yield a dozen or more.  Often you have to look through them all to find the one relevant to your search.

Recorded Date Search might have some utility if your deed refers to a "plan recorded herewith" but that doesn't give you the Plan Book and Plan number.  In that case, just ascertain the date that the document was recorded then switch to this part of the plan index and make the search just that day, or a range of few days on either side of that day.  The resulting set should include the plan of interest to you.

In a future post, I'll review some of the nuances of the system such as how to retrieve "M Plans" and other issues that arise outside the standard plans discussed above.

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