[Talk-us] Differences with USA admin_level tagging

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny+osm at gmail.com
Tue Jul 11 17:05:43 UTC 2017

On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 10:40 AM, Adam Franco <adamfranco at gmail.com> wrote:
> On the "Gores" point: In Vermont, while these do not have any administrative
> infrastructure and are managed by the State, they are surveyed and named
> places with defined borders (shared with their surrounding Towns). As such
> it likely makes sense to preserve them as multipolygons each with their own
> name and detail tags. Since these areas are exclusive of Town/City areas, it
> might make sense to give them the same admin_level even though the
> mechanisms of administration are different. They aren't States themselves,
> so a border=administrative,admin_level=4 smells wrong. I can't speak to the
> situation in Maine.

I agree. There's a similar situation with Hamlets in some towns in
New York: they're surveyed (or at least defined by things like street
intersections, they're signed, the local post office is named for them,
and the residents know which one they inhabit. They may not have
any kind of separate government administration, but the enclosing
Towns sometimes draft things like parking and zoning regulations
calling them out. I suggest putting them at the same admin-level
as Villages.

New York placed everything into Towns early, but we have some
Towns where the local 'government' is whatever resident agreed
to have a name on the ballot as supervisor that year (and there
have been cases where the seat has simply been empty and the
county or the state has run everything. The fact that the Town could
legally elect a government that would take over those functions
makes it different only in principle from Vermont's Gores,
New Hampshire's Locations, Plantations and Grants, or Maine's
Unorganized Territories. They're areas where the population is
so sparse that it's not really feasible or desirable to constitute
a municipal government, so services ordinarily provided by a
municipality instead come from county or state. (New York outside
New York City has relatively strong counties, unlike some New
England states.) There's a limit to how much government a
Town with fewer than a hundred inhabitants can support!

To complicate matters, we have some Town (and even county)
boundaries that are indefinite. They hypothetically are defined,
but have never been surveyed. They tend to give rise to complex
litigation if they are ever discovered to have resources.
This happened when garnets were discovered on Gore
Mountain - which was named for being in a gore created
between the surveys of two Towns. Barton still mines garnets
there - but you can be sure that THAT particular town line
got field-surveyed in a hurry! Some of the lines on the administrative
maps are very approximate, and there simply are no authoritative
field data to be had.

I'd still mark 'boundary=administrative',
with something like 'administrative:indefinite=yes'. Whatever
the eventual outcome, towns do not overlap.

(Only map and history geeks need continue reading;
the remainder of this post is not relevant to the issue
at hand.)

See http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Township-40-Totten-and-Crossfield-1900.jpg
for an example. The whole area had supposedly been ruled into rectangles,
but the corner of Township 36 had an error of closure of greater
than a kilometre near N****rhead Mountain, which was eventually
resolved in favour of the State (the major landowner of
Township 40). [To avoid confusion, the numbered townships
are survey townships within a land patent, not Towns.] You
see the error of closure continuing at the southeast side,
near the Marion River and Sargent Ponds portages.

The steamboat no longer plies the lake; Asher Durant's
railway is no more, but 125-year-old litigation over land
title defects resulting from eighteenth-century errors in
Township 40 was resolved only two months ago. Land
owners on the lake shore can finally enjoy quiet title to
their properties, and the State finally has an uncontested
claim to two portages on the North Country Canoe Trail.

'boundary=administrative' is a surprisingly messy thing
at all levels of government. Let's do the best we can.

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