I would like to be able to draw points in ArcMap using information provided by an Annexation Ordinance.

  • I use ArcMap 10.3 with a Basic License

Not having much experience in working with documents of this kind, the information is difficult for me to "translate" into something I can easily represent on a map.

Here is a snippet from one of the documents:
Annexation Snippet

Surely there are tools in ArcMap that will make this process much easier on me.
I am looking for a way to be able to type in those numbers and bearings and have the program drop a point or vertex there.

Can someone explain an "easy" way of doing this?

  • 1
    Are COGO tools what you're looking for? (I don't have time to get a more detailed explanation at the moment -- try googling "edit COGO") – Erica Feb 6 '15 at 14:58
  • @Erica o0o0o0o! This looks very promising! I will delve further into these tools and see what I can come up with. Certainly on the right track. – Nomkins Feb 6 '15 at 15:06

There are a couple of ways to go about it I think.

COGO is one way. It stands for "coordinate geometry" and is essentially a suite of tools designed specifically around digitizing parcels such as you're describing. Wha'ts nice is you can have a whole table put together of bearings and distances, which minimizes the possibility of error. Unfortunately, the COGO toolbar doesn't come with a Basic license. (Read over the Question I linked to, though, it mentions some alternatives to COGO which might be useful.)

HOWEVER, basic COGO methods are still available even with the basic license. When you are in an edit session, after you create a starting point, right-click and select "Direction/Length..." (or type Ctrl+G). This lets you input a bearing and distance for the next point. You can thereby make all your line segments according to the annexation ordinance.

(See This Question for some screenshots. I couldn't take one of my own machine.)

A good writeup of the process (including pictures) is in this GIS Obsessed Blog Post: COGO Made Easy in ArcGIS Desktop. I'm going to quote a couple of the most critical tips:

ArcMap will support several different types of units & you can enter unit types other than what you're using in your map by including a unit abbreviation after a distance. I've found some deeds that have distances in Rods, which are even supported in ArcMap (add rd after the distance).

So for S 00° 10' 24" W a distance of 962 feet -- if your map units are in meters, not feet (I had to do a lot of parcel work on a UTM map, reading from SC State Plane parcels in feet), your direction would be S 00-10-24 W and your distance would be 962ft.

If you're drawing a line in the opposite direction from the way that a plan shows it, just make sure that you flip the directions in your bearing, ie., if the plan shows the bearing as S 86-12-36 E and you are drawing the line the opposite way, just enter it as N 86-12-36 W.

This can be good for double-checking a deed, if you want to start at the "end" and work backwards and see if the parcel is correct.

The hardest part of this process is when you diligently follow through all the steps of the parcel outline per the survey description... and the end point doesn't meet up with the beginning point (and is hundreds of feet off). So you assume something went wrong, and you carefully go through again, and get back to the same discrepancy at the end. (When THAT happens, the survey is to blame and it's time to start making educated guesses about where the typo is in the writeup!) The advantage of COGO (or similar) is that you reduce the risk that you made a typo somewhere in the editing process.

  • How odd. Did we basically post the same answer at the same time? XD – Nomkins Feb 6 '15 at 15:34
  • HA! Glad you found what you were looking for, pretty much on your own too! Have fun editing :) – Erica Feb 6 '15 at 15:35

As suggested by @Erica, COGO tools are what I would ideally use for this type of work.
However, being limited to a Basic License, COGO tools in ArcMap are not available to me.

I found this blog explaining a workaround for such a situation. It explains how to adjust your editing tools so that you can do what I mentioned above: "type in those numbers and bearing and have the program drop a point or vertex there."

To do this:

  • Begin an Edit session and go into the Edit Options menu.
  • Click on the "Units" tab
  • Set "Direction Type" to "Quadrant Bearing"
  • Set "Direction Units" to "Degrees Minutes Seconds"
    Edit Options

Now, when drawing a Polygon, you can right-click and select "Direction/Length" or use CTRL + G.

You will be presented with this:

Now, you can type in what you read in the Annexation Ordinance description, press Enter, and the point will be drawn!

  • 2
    You can input the lines like that, but it unfortunately doesn't give you the checks and ease of use that the COGO Traverse tool would. You might look at ET GeoTools as a cheaper option to an upgraded license. Copan Lite is another option, discussed at other questions. I've added some tags to the question that might lead you to more information/explanations as well. – Chris W Feb 6 '15 at 22:35

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