MeasuRight surveys the land, one marker at a time

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  • James Kuhta is a local surveyor who recently gave a presentation at Liberty Science Museum.

  • James Kuhla explained the science of surveying to kids and adults at the museum.

“Field work is just half the job; proper legal research and boundary analysis are required to ascertain the correct formation for creating the client’s final survey map.”
James Kuhta
“Boundary lines shown on a survey map of the property may be difficult to locate accurately on the ground without markers denoting the corners of the property. Placing markers helps to avoid future disputes and enables you to identify the physical location of your property.”
New Jersey Society of Professional Land Surveyors


We’ve all passed them on the road, standing out in all kinds of weather with their tools of the trade at hand. They are surveyors – but what is it that they do exactly?

In good company
Surveying is an age-old profession. For example, Stonehenge, built c. 2500 BC, employed prehistoric surveyors who used “peg and rope geometry.” When the Nile River overflowed its bank in ancient Egypt, a “rope stretcher,” or surveyor, re-established the boundary lines of washed-out farm lands.

When West Milford’s James Kuhta, 56, announces his profession as a land surveyor he can add that he’s in mighty good company. Three of the famous faces on Mount Rushmore - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln - were surveyors, as were Daniel Boone and Lewis and Clark, who led a rather successful expedition.

It took Kuhta, an Upper Greenwood Lake resident, seven years to obtain his license, a combination of studying and working alongside experienced surveyors. He carries two bachelor of science degrees, one in software engineering and one in survey engineering. He opened his own business in 2012 and feels his previous career as a software engineer and his current study and experience in surveying gives his customers an advantage.

It pays to be precise
Surveying is about more than measuring and marking. Sometimes a property line issue winds up in court.

“If there’s a question as to where the boundary line is, the courts need our guidance and expertise,” he said.

Surveyors follow in the footsteps of the original surveyor. They research deeds and maps and sometimes act as an intermediary between two parties.

“When someone trespasses on your property it’s a trespass offense. As surveyors we try to make peace. There can be only one line.” Kuhta said.

As defined by the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping, surveying is “the science and art of making all essential measurements to determine the relative position of points or physical and cultural details above, on or beneath the surface of the earth and to depict them in a usable form or to establish the position of points.”

Kuhta said that New Jersey has a law in place that requires the surveyor to “monument” every corner. A winter like the current one, with lots of snow on the ground, can bog down the process. He advises his clients to wait for a warm-up since he cannot see under the snow and his instruments are sensitive to frigid temperatures.

“I look out my window and see a foot of snow. How are you going to see what’s on the ground? When I do a survey, I look at numbers and can gauge if something is right or wrong but when it gets below freezing, the electronics in the robotic instruments tend to act up. You can’t rush this and get quality,” he said.

A high standard

Kuhta holds himself to a high bar of integrity and in doing so sleeps well at night.

“If I have to go into a court of law I can explain my professional decision, why I decided to set a boundary. I take a lot of pride in what I do,” he added.

When he completes a survey he will walk the property line with the owner. “Every square foot is worth money,” he said.

Kuhta enjoys educating people in the art of surveying. He’s been known to set up a chalk board and equipment in parks, demonstrating his field of science. He believes that a simple explanation of his job works best.

“One of the things we learn as children is measuring distances,” he said. How far is it to school, then how far to work, may later become how large is my property? By following the footsteps of the original survey, he re-establishes property bounds for purposes such as land purchase, property expansion, encroachment or fence and tree locations, to name a few.

A trip to Liberty Science Center

He recently gave a presentation at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, exhibiting the latest wireless robotic measurement equipment. In attendance were people of different ages, from varied walks of life and from across the globe. He found that when dealing with other cultures and languages that working with numbers, an international language, helps span the divide.

A supporter of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education, Kuhta enjoyed sharing his survey equipment with the children at the center.

“Letting youngsters actually utilize a laser to measure distance gives them the empowerment and incentive to ask more questions and make further investigations into the surveying field.”

So, maybe next time you pass a surveyor out on the road you’d like to wave. He may not be mapping out the pyramids, but he’s performing a complex and valuable service. One marker at a time.

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