TG Daily reports Cape May County, New Jersey, county tax assessors have turned to aerial photography to spot illegal additions to properties and to fine farmers for not farming enough.
Cape May County is using photos from Pictometry International Corporation. The pictures, which are taken from satellites and planes at least 5000 feet up, are taken at oblique angles and are not the traditional straight-down shots you typically see in satellite photos. The advantage of such photos is that you can use what’s called photogeometry to measure out how tall a building is or the length of the driveway – it’s basically a trigonometry problem where some lengths and angles are already known.
Pictometry claims their photos are taken from 12 different viewpoints and this gives governments a unique perspective on almost any property. Apparently this also works especially well in seeing what is happing in your backyard.
Most counties and cities in the United States have a permitting system for property owners. Owners must apply for a permit and submit to inspection before they want to modify their building. Originally this system was implemented to protect home owners from doing a dangerous addition, like a balcony that can’t support people or a railing that is too low, but like many things this turned into a big tax revenue generator. Additionally, home owners often fight mountains of paperwork in applying for a building permit.