COLUMBIA, S.C. — The border between North Carolina and South Carolina will not be finalized until spring.
That is when officials plan to finish retracing the last 31 miles of the 334-mile border. Officials had hoped to finish work earlier this year so the Joint Boundary Commission could approve the final border in December. But funding issues delayed the start on the final segment of the border until October, pushing the estimated completion date to spring.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Sid Miller, South Carolina’s co-chairman of the Boundary Commission. “(December) has been our goal for about three or four years and so it slipped a little bit.”
Gary Thompson, the co-chairman from North Carolina, blamed the delay on bureaucratic red tape.
“When you have to get through the approval process, you estimate the time you think it takes to get done – and it takes a little longer, especially when dealing with two different state governments,” he said.
North Carolina and South Carolina officials have been working to clarify their border since 1994. It has been slow, expensive work. The original border dates back to the 1700s, when surveyors marked the border by carving notches into trees. But 240 years later, most of those trees are gone – casualties of nature and development.
Creating a new border would require congressional approval and would be more expensive. So officials from both states have been retracing the original border from the 1700s, scavenging libraries and courthouse drawers for old maps.
But clarifying the border means some people who thought they lived in South Carolina actually live in North Carolina. Those people would have new addresses, drivers licenses and school districts. They also would have new tax rates and could be forced to pay back taxes – troubles lawmakers in both states hope to avoid by passing legislation to lessen the impact.
But the delay means lawmakers likely will wait until 2014 to introduce a bill to lessen the impact of the finalized border, according to S.C. state Sen. Wes Hayes, R-York, a member of the Boundary Commission.
“We are going to have to not only pass a law lessening the burden on our citizens, but we will probably have to pass a law implementing exactly where the line is,” Hayes said. “It may not be a real easy thing to do to get this legislation done. ... People need to know exactly where the line is, developers and surveyors, etc.”
Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.