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Site shows lay of the land in Merced County

MERCED — Merced County has relaunched its digital mapping Web site, which provides free access to information about land parcels throughout the county.

The site now lets visitors see the location, shape, size, boundary, zoning and land use of every piece of property.

It also provides the street addresses, parcel numbers and assessed property values for land throughout the county.

The Merced County Association of Governments compiled map details from agencies throughout the county, then coordinated them into the geographic information system's interactive online map.

"Data still comes to us in various forms — digital, paper, parcel pages and e-mail," said Rich Green, the association's GIS manager. "We turn that information into GIS layers that show updates on parcels, roads, bike lanes, parks, water sources, population — any data that a planner needs."

Green said the county's previous GIS map site was not reliable, and it was down for six months. He said the new site eventually will be expanded to include more public data — such as flood plains, aerial photos, bus routes and school district boundaries.

"Mapping on the Web still is fairly new, and it's evolving quickly," Green said. "We're putting things on it that people want most."

City and county planning offices routinely are asked for information about general plans and how various pieces of land are zoned.

"Now people can go to this site and figure out zoning and other parcel information themselves, so they don't have to come down here," Green said. Colorcoded maps of any area in the county can be printed for free by users.

"The next big thing we're going to add to the site (by July) is information on transportation projects and their status," Green said.

Green's association coordinates the mapping system for the six cities and county government in Merced County.

Besides the free information available on the site, the association creates customized maps and sells them through its nonprofit Merced Data Special Services group. Those maps are priced at $45 and up.

Green said school districts, for instance, might use customized data to map where students live so they can better plan for bus routes, new schools and other needs.

He said real estate agents and appraisers can use the interactive maps to determine property values, and parcel information such as boundaries and zoning.

The Merced County site can be found online at: www.McagGIS.com.

Modesto also has a detailed GIS map site online. Its features include the location and names of licensed businesses, schools, government buildings, bus routes, zoning, parcel numbers and aerial photos. The Modesto site is: www.modestogov.com/ gis/home/index.aspx.

San Joaquin County's GIS map site includes data such as parcel numbers, sizes, zoning, general plan designations, district boundaries for schools, fire stations, judicial regions, post offices and sheriff patrol routes. It is at: http://sjmap.org.

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