Spying On Your Neighbor Just Got A Whole Lot Easier

One of Westporters’ favorite hobbies — finding everything about someone else’s property — just got a hell of a lot easier.

According to the Westport News, Esri — the company providing the software that enables anyone to find maps and aerial photos of every property in Westport, along with information on zoning data and permits — has changed its platform.

“It’s similar to when Microsoft said, ‘We’re not going to be doing DOS anymore; we’re moving to Windows,” notes town engineer Peter Ratkiewich.

And just as Microsoft engineered a paradigm shift, so too does this represent a huge step forward in projecting GIS (Geographic Information System, duh) data.

No, it's not a QR code. It's a map of Westport. Drill down, and you'll see much more.

Last week, Ratkiewich gave a demonstration to a dozen or so people, mostly town employees. He showed them how to zoom in and out of properties; pull up information on them; find estimates of square footage; determine parcel lines, rights-of-way and easements, and see rough contours the land.

The “public viewer” provides great aerial views showing how close a property line is to a house.

The News noted that “layering” the maps can show wetlands, flood zones and zoning classifications. (Layering is different from “lawyering,” which some of the info may lead to.)

Users can combine properties to see, for example, how much land is available for a subdivision.

The News says that permit information — from 1990 to now — is updated daily. It shows active, approved, closed and voided permits, as well as certificates of occupancy. Parcel information (such as the owner’s name) is updated quarterly.

Users can search for a specific property by address, owner name or parcel ID.  They can even get mailing labels for residents within a 250-foot radius, in case they have to contact them for some, um, zoning issue.

(Click here to use the public viewer. Computers should have Internet Explorer 8 or better, and pop-up blockers must be turned off. Tutorials on using the new public viewer are set for Thursday, March 1 [9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Town Hall auditorium.])

I can see my home too, via Bing. No, it's not a mansion -- I live in a condo.

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