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Relevant Issues

Relevant Issues Regarding Use of Beacon

The following issues apply while viewing map features in Beacon. Please review the following information as some of the information has changed from the previous Beacon welcome homepage.

Ground Features Present in Aerial Photography May Not Exist Today

Aerial photography is a picture of the ground taken at a point in time.  Two series of ortho photographs (orthophotography--rectified to the ground and usable for measuring ground distances) are available for viewing in Beacon: one flown in April 2003 and the other flown in April 2008. Since these pictures represent what the ground looked like at a specific point in time, any ground features found to exist after these dates will not appear in the aerial photography.

Aerial photography is flown by the county about every 3 to 4 years.  The last flight prior to 2003, took place in 1999.  This set of photography was taken in black and white.  A 2005 flight made possible by an initiative of the Indiana Geographic Information Council, Inc. was flown in natural color, which greatly increased its usefulness. This photography is not available on Beacon.  The 2008 imagery, flown by Pictometry, is natural color imagery available in Beacon.The next flight is projected for sometime in the spring of 2011 or 2012.

Land Ownership May Not Match between the Parcels (Assessor) and Parcels (Surveyor) Layers

Two Parcels layers, showing the same exact parcel boundaries but referencing different databases, serve as a general representation of the location of parcel boundaries. The aerial photographs show physical signs of land ownership occupation—physical boundaries such as fences are visible and are referenced as parcel boundaries by land owners.

There are areas that exist where the parcels layer will not line up with the aerial photograph.  Every effort is taken to represent parcel boundaries as accurately as possible.  Many reasons exist to explain why parcel boundaries don’t line up with the aerials.  One main reason is due to poor or vague legal descriptions. Another reason may be attributed to occupation deviating from how it was originally laid out in a subdivision plat (this is especially true for urban areas).  Areas where parcel lines don’t line up with the aerials will need to be researched and possibly resurveyed to determine reasons for the discrepancy.  When time permits, the Tax Mapper with assistance from the Auditor's Office will perform research and refer to historic and new survey information to correct problem areas.

Map Features are a General Representation of Real-World Ground Features

Physical features that exist on the ground, such as roads, building structures, and water bodies, are represented in Beacon™ as points, lines, and enclosed areas called polygons. Map features are a general representation of what actually exists on the ground. Various means are used for drawing map features.  Various sources of information are used as reference (e.g., recorded documents and surveys, digitizing features directly from aerial orthophotographs, and downloadable information from trusted websites).

Every effort is taken to utilize proper techniques and reference viable data sources when drawing map features.  It should be noted that some data sources are more accurate than others and this may explain why certain map features appear to be drawn incorrectly.  Users of Beacon™ should take notice that the digital map serves as a general representation of what exists in the real world and should be used accordingly. To obtain information (metadata) about map layers, please contact the Noble County GIS Coordinator.

The Parcels (Assessor) and Parcels (Surveyor) Layers May Display Different Property Ownership

As mentioned earlier, two parcels layers are being used for displaying parcel boundaries. The Parcels (Assessor) layer is used for accessing parcel land ownership, assessment, and tax information residing in the Noble County Assessor’s, Auditor’s and Treasurer’s Offices.  Use this layer to identify and view a parcel’s land ownership, assessment, and tax information in Beacon’s Report tab.

The Parcels (Surveyor) layer is used for accessing parcel land ownership and drainage information residing in the Noble County Surveyor’s Office.  Use this layer to identify and view land ownership and drainage information in Beacon™’s Report tab.

Since the Low Tax system (in the Auditor's and Treasurer's Offices), X-Soft CAMA system (in the Assessor's Office) and the Land Ownership Database (in the Surveyor's Office) are separately maintained by different county offices, information may be different or non-existent in one or the other’s database.  The Surveyor’s database represents each legally described tract of land as a separate record in its database.  However, the Auditor’s and Assessor’s databases tend to group multiple tracts under one tax identification number.  Parcels displayed on both Parcels layers are drawn to show each legally described track of land. Each parcel is referenced with a unique 18-digit state Parcel Identification Number (PIN) in the Surveyor’s database, while groups of parcels in the Auditor’s and Assessor’s databases are referenced with one 18-digit state PIN.  This can result in no property match when the Parcels (Assessor) layer is active and while using the 18-digit state PIN or Tax ID as search criteria in the Beacon™ Search Tab.  If you are experiencing trouble finding a parcel, instructions are provided at the bottom of the Search tab.

Recent Property Transfers May Not Have Available Assessment and/or Tax Information

Every night Beacon™ updates are sent from the county to the Schneider Corporation, who hosts the website.  Information may not be made available for nightly updates from the county.  As parcels are transferred in the Auditor’s Office, time is required to update the internal GIS layers to reflect the transfer, especially if the transfer creates a new parcel split or a new subdivision plat.

Please be aware that recent transferred parcels may not show up on the website; this, however, doesn’t mean that the transfer did not occur in the Auditor’s office.  Parcel transfer information is also entered into various county property databases: Assessor’s, Auditor’s/Treasurer's, and Surveyor’s databases. At this time, all three databases are separate from one another and maintained independently. This causes information to be entered into these databases at different time intervals depending on the office’s work flow.  Assessor’s assessment information is required to be withheld from the public during times of trending.  During this time, the previous year’s assessments will still be viewable on the Report tab, but may not reflect current assessment values.  When the trending process is completed, the updated values will be made available. This usually occurs sometime in late April or early May.  The Auditor's/Treasurer's land ownership and tax information is current and displayed in Beacon as the information is processed.

Zoning Codes May Have Different Meanings for Each Zoning Jurisdiction

The Zoning layer's group contains zoning codes that may have different meanings for each jurisdiction.  Please consult with the controlling jurisdiction about the meaning of the zoning label found on the map and to check for zoning changes that may have occurred.

The Zoning layer's group contains separate zoning layers for each of the following zoning jurisdictions:

  • Zoning-County: Rural parts of the county controlled by the Noble County Plan Commission.
  • Zoning-Albion: The town of Albion and the approximate 2-mile area lying outside of Albion's corporate limits.
  • Zoning-Avilla: The town of Avilla and the approximate 2-mile area lying outside of Avilla's corporate limits.
  • Zoning-Cromwell: The town of Cromwell and the approximate 2-mile area lying outside of Cromwell's corporate limits.
  • Zoning-Kendallville: The city of Kendallville and the approximate 2-mile area lying outside of Kendallville's corporate limits.
  • Zoning-Ligonier: The city of Ligonier and the approximate 2-mile area lying outside of Ligonier's corporate limits.
  • Zoing-Rome City: The city of Rome City and the approximate 2-mile area lying outside of Rome City's corporate limits.
  • Zoning-Wolcottville: The town of Wolcottville.
  • Proposed Zoning Changes-Added for the Noble County Plan Commission's proposed zoning changes per the proposed Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), Draft E.

Parcel Searching Tips

The Noble County Beacon website provides the following four means of searching land ownership information.

  • Land Ownership Name - it is possible to search by last name only or by first and last name. The first and last name can be entered in any order.  It is not necessary to separate first and last names with a comma.  If you are not sure what name(s) the property may be listed under, try using only the last name.  This will help guarantee that all the parcels listed under the last name are found.
  • Address - searching by address may be a trickier proposition.  The system will attempt to find a match for the address entered.  If there is more than one private residence on a parcel, the system may only have one of the two to compare with the search criteria.  If the Parcels (Assessor) layer is active when performing your search using the Search tab and no results are found, try making the Parcels (Surveyor) layer active by clicking on the layer name.  A blue symbol with an “i” will appear next to the layer.  This is how you will know what layer is currently active.  Enter your search criteria and see if you get a match.  If you do, go to the Map tab and click the parcel using the identify button to select the parcel.  This should retrieve information under the Report tab.
  • Parcel ID - Parcel ID is the 18-digit State parcel identification number (PIN) used by all county offices dealing with property.  See the Parcels layers under Beacon's GIS Layers for an explanation on interpreting this number.  The number consists of a series of hyphens “-“ and one period “.”  It is not necessary to enter the 18-digit PIN using the punctuation.  Again, if the Parcels (Assessor) layer is active when searching for a PIN using the Search tab and no results are found, try searching by setting the Parcels (Surveyor) layer active.
  • Tax Bill ID - This number is an 11-digit tax identification number assigned to a parcel or a group of parcels in the Auditor’s Office.  This is an older parcel identification numbering system still in use.  The Tax Bill ID consists of the following format: XXX-XXXXXX-XX, where every number begins with a zero “0”.  Notice that this number consists of two hyphens.  It is not necessary to enter the hyphens when entering Tax Bill ID search criteria. Again, if the Parcels (Assessor) layer is active when searching for a PIN using the Search tab and no results are found, try searching by setting the Parcels (Surveyor) layer active.

An alternate search method is navigating the map under the Map tab.

  • Set the Parcels (Assessor) layer active for identifying and viewing a parcel's land ownership, assessment, and tax information in Beacon's Report tab.
  • Set the Parcels (Surveyor) layer active for identifying and viewing land ownership and drainage information in Beacon's Report tab.

Indiana Public Access Law and Privacy

The county’s GIS data is considered a strategic asset established for directly benefiting county office decision-making abilities, promoting economic development, and delivering public services more efficiently.  The county recognizes that GIS data is also a benefit to others. The decision-making process for allowing distribution of GIS data, along with assessment and tax information, is based on the following principles(1):

  • Public information is a necessary component of the democratic process and open government.
  • The value of geospatial data is realized through its usage.
  • Widespread distribution and use of public information benefits the county's entire jurisdiction.
  • Public agencies increasingly store data electronically, and such digital data constitutes the public record.
  • In their roles as data custodians, public agencies have a responsiblity to make data available both for citizen access and to reduce duplication of effort among public agencies.
  • Public agencies need funding to develop, maintain, and distribute their data.

Noble County's distribution of public information is governed by Indiana Code 5-14-3, "Access to Public Records."  Two other documents play a role in establishing access to Noble County's public information.

Indiana Code (IC) 5-14-3-2, defines who is eligible for gaining access to public data. The definition includes " individual, a corporation, a limited liability company, a partnership, an unincorporated association, or a governmental entity."

Indiana Code (IC) 5-14-3-3 (d), states that governmental entities shall make reasonable efforts to provide electronic data. Information can be made available through various means, including electronic maps - Noble County has chosen to make electronic maps available through Beacon.

Indiana Code (IC) 5-14-3-3.6 (d), provides the following privacy safeguards:

  • Unauthorized enhanced access to public records
  • Unauthorized alteration of public records
  • Nondisclosure of confidential records

Along with these safeguards, Indiana Code (IC) 5-14-3-4 provides a list of exempted records from the public assess law.

Noble County strives to provide enhanced access to public records with regards to land ownership, assessment, and tax information while providing limits on what information is released that may compromise privacy. With this in mind, Beacon provides these benefits:

  • Reduced office traffic
  • Greater access to a wider audience
  • Greater accountability

Indiana's Public Access Counselor has prepared a Public Access Handbook which is referenced for guidance on public access issues.

Notes: (1) Adopted from the Open Data Consortium project Model Data Distribution Policy. Oct. 2003, GIS Consultants. 1615 Broadway, Suite 415, Oakland, CA 94612. (510) 238-9771 GIS.