Property Lines

Property Line Calculation from Curb & Gutter Streets

The approximate location of private property lines is a routine request for the engineering division. Residents seeking to construct a garage, a fence, a driveway, etc. will need property line information to satisfy building code regulations. By utilizing data established on engineering records, property lines may be located with reasonable accuracy. The department of building safety will generally accept property lines determined from engineering data. Interpretation of this information is advisory only-the city of Duluth assumes no liability for accuracy. It remains the property owner's responsibility to seek a registered land surveyor for reliable proof of the precise location of property lines.

Construction of a house or similar structure requires a registered survey which must be secured by a registered land surveyor. The city of Duluth does not provide this service.

By using the guides, examples, and data from the Duluth Street Inventory provided here, most approximate property lines may be reasonably established. For questions, call: Engineering Division 218/730-5200

General Terms

Assessment Rolls an alphabetical/numerical listing of all streets/avenues with the city of Duluth by address showing the legal description and plat name
Carson Map Book a plat book which shows all recorded subdivision on the land
Center Line the middle of the full right-of-way
Curb & Gutter Street a concrete or bituminous (blacktop) surfaced roadway complete with curb and gutter
Duluth Street Inventory a listing of most city maintained streets/avenues including the class (city, county, state highway, county highway, etc.), width (roadway width measured in feet, construction history (year re-built, overlay applied, etc.), edge (curb and gutter, sod ditch, etc.), length (from one street intersection to another), and traffic counts
Easement a right to use the land of another for a specific purpose, such as for right-of-way utilities or street
Face of Curb the points at which the curb and gutter meet at the base of the street; the street-side of the curb
Legal Description a description of a specific parcel of real estate adequate for a surveyor to locate and identify; the most common forms of a legal description are: rectangular survey, mete and bounds, and subdivision lots and block (plat)
Plat a map of a town, section, or subdivision indicating the location and boundaries of individual properties
Property Lines physical boundaries as indicated in a legal description
Right-of-Way the full easement from one property line to another property line in parallel with each other; the roadway may be within those boundaries as well as public sidewalk and boulevard areas. It is the right given by one landowner to another to pass over the land, construct a roadway, or use as a pathway without actually transferring ownership
R-O-W an abbreviation for right-of-way
Road Width the measurement of a roadway from one curb to the opposite curb (curb-to-curb)
Survey the processes by which boundaries are measured and land areas are determined; the onsite measurement of lot lines, dimensions, and positions of buildings on a lot, including the determination of any existing encroachments or easements


Typical Easement between Property Lines

Click here for an example of Typical Easement

General Measurement Calculations

The following is an example of a corner lot calculation for approximate property lines:

  1. Obtain the legal description of the property with the plat name, lot, and block numbers; lot size; street address. (St Louis County Release Estate)
    OR call the city of Duluth Assessor's office at 218/730-5190.
  2. From the Duluth Street Inventory:
    a. find the matching street name
    b. verify the right-of-way figure and write it down
    c. find the street width figure and write it down 
    d. repeat steps a - c for the avenue
    e. divide the right-of-way figure in half
    f. divide the street width figure in half
    g. subtract the resulting street width figure from the right-of-way figure
    h. the resulting footage will be measured from the face of the curb to establish the approximate property line (Face of Curb Measurement drawing)
    i. repeat steps e - h for avenue figures
    j. from the approximate front property line, the depth of the lot (for example, 140') may be measured to establish the approximate rear property line
    k. from the approximate side property line, the width of the lot (for example, 50') may be measured to establish both approximate side property line

Mid-Block Lots

Many properties are located within the block itself and not on a corner. To establish approximate side property lines requires more measuring:

  1. Locate the appropriate property information for a corner lot from the steps above.
  2. Add the footage toward the target lot from that property line. 
    a. The additional footage from preceding lots will require a plat map; Carson Map book; or additional legal descriptions from the St. Louis County web site: (St Louis County Release Estate
    OR city of Duluth Assessor's Office at 218/730-5190.

Adjustment for Grades

Survey measurements from property lines are recorded on a horizontal plane. A major portion of Duluth resides on various degrees of grade (slopes). Measuring on a grade will result in a shorter measurement toward an approximate property line as opposed to that same measurement on a horizontal surface. An adjustment must be followed or the physical measurement in the field will not be accurate. Chaining will compensate for grade variations.

Depending on the degree of the grade to be measured, one or two assistants will be necessary.

  1. Standing at the face of the curb, one individual will hold a pole straight up from the curb.
  2. Another individual will pull a tape measure toward the property in question-this measurement must be on a horizontal plane to the ground. The degree of the grade will determine how far this measurement will remain level-it may be ten feet or only two feet.
  3. The individual with the pole will advance to the new mark and the horizontal measurement will continue from that point.
  4. Continue measuring the required footage to establish the approximate property line(s).
    (Adjusting for Grades drawing)

Without appropriate surveying knowledge and equipment, this approach is certainly approximate at best. It will compensate for grade variations which, otherwise, would not produce a reasonable property line.

All city of Duluth offices will share public information with citizens. The city of Duluth assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the location data provided. A registered land surveyor must be employed to establish precise property lines.

City of Duluth Public Works & Utilities Department, Engineering Division
City Hall, Room 211
411 West First Street
Duluth, MN 55802
(218) 730-5200


Staff Directory

Emergency Numbers:

24-hour gas emergency number: (218)730-4100

24-hour general emergency number (use for sanitary sewer, stormwater, streets, and furnace problems): (218)730-4000


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