Bibb/Monroe County Border Line Dispute Continues
Monroe County Commissioners can't seem to bury the hatchet on an old border dispute between Monroe and Bibb Counties.
In September of last year, Georgia Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, refused to sign a plat marking a new line between the counties. Monroe is now fighting that decision in court. However, a new Monroe County Commission Chairman could mean an end to the bickering.
"I feel like if we're just going to keep throwing money at it, well we're not going to accomplish anything because the Secretary of State has not and I don't think he will sign the plat." Monroe County Commission Chairman-elect, Mike Bilderback said.
Bilderback will not take office until January 2013 but he said he doesn't want to continue wasting tax payers’ dollars on the Bibb/Monroe county line dispute.
"If it hasn't been resolved, I'm going to be of the mind that we don't pursue anymore litigation on it,” Bilderback said.
In a county that operates on an annual budget of $20 million, two million dollars of it has been spent on this issue alone in the last three years. The dispute regards a parcel of land near the tip of Bibb County where Bass Pro Shop stands and other developed property in the area. The line has changed twice since the 1800s and has been in dispute since the 1940s but really didn't become an issue again until 2005.
"When Bass Pro came to Bibb County then all of a sudden here comes the Monroe County line dispute issue to the forefront,” Bibb County Attorney, Virgil Adams said. “So you can imagine the amount of tax revenue is involved."
A state surveyor, Terry Scarborough was appointed by previous governor, Sonny Perdue, to carve a new county line after a Monroe County grand jury demanded to have a new survey. Scarborough’s survey moved part of a sub-division into Monroe County and some of Bass Pro Shops. His line focused on an 1822 survey that marked the eastern edge of the border line at the Ocmulgee River ferry crossing.
However, Bibb County officials uncovered documents in Jones County that showed that there could have been more than one ferry in the area. They presented these documents in court and Kemp ruled in favor of Bibb County officials despite an administrative judge approving Scarborough’s survey.
Bilderback said that if the current Georgia Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, signed the plat, Monroe County would have their delegation introduce a bill to draw the line around the sporting goods store property,
"Bibb County has a large investment in this economic development project and we had no plans in interfering with that." Bilderback said.
However, Bibb County Attorney, Virgil Adams, said the issue is over after Kemp did not sign the plat in 201.
"Where he (Scarborough) located the line was not based on the evidence that's of record."
Bilderback said for now he is tabling the issue until a new Georgia Secretary of State is elected so he and Monroe County Commissioners can present the evidence again. However, Adams said as far as he and the Bibb County Commissioners are concerned, the debate is finished.
"It's done, Bibb County prevailed,” Adams said.
Monroe County currently has a mandamus petition in Fulton county Superior Court to get Kemp to reverse his decision. A mandamus petition orders government officials to carry out their elected duties that they’ve neglected or refused to do. The new markers that the surveyor placed still stand, but Bibb County officials are looking to remove them in the future.