ATLANTA (AP) — A judge has handed Monroe County a victory in a border dispute with neighboring Bibb County that has been going on for years.
A Fulton County judge on Wednesday ordered Secretary of State Brian Kemp to set the Bibb-Monroe county border south of where it’s currently marked, The Telegraph newspaper reports.
The judge ordered Kemp to use a controversial 2009 survey he has rejected multiple times. Monroe County first appealed Kemp’s rejection to the secretary of state himself, filed an unsuccessful lawsuit in Fulton County, and then filed another suit in Fulton County that resulted in the Wednesday decision, the newspaper reports.
This particular legal fight pitted Monroe County against Kemp’s office. Bibb County officials said after the ruling they weren’t aware of the case, but they said they plan to try to intervene before a final order is issued.
“Because we had no notice of these proceedings, we will take immediate steps to intervene prior to the Judge issuing a final order,” Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart said in a statement.
Bibb County Attorney Virgil Adams said he expects the Secretary of State will appeal any order, which means the fight could drag on for a while.
“We expect the county will take whatever actions (are) deemed necessary to have a proper review of any ruling the county deems detrimental. We will exhaust all legal avenues possible,” Adams said.
The border’s location has been in question since at least the 1940s and stems from disputed ferry locations and a survey done shortly after the border was established in 1822 that has been lost. At stake is potentially millions of dollars in tax revenue from land that’s been increasing in value. The land in dispute includes part of a subdivision, part of a parking lot at a shopping center and other infrastructure.
Bibb County and Kemp oppose the line from the 2009 survey because they say it didn’t prove where the border actually is. Monroe favored that line, which would put profitable property under its control.
Monroe County Chairman Mike Bilderback had opposed further legal measures if the most recent court case failed, saying the county has spent more than $2 million on the case.
“We need to be guarded in our excitement now,” Bilderback said. “We’ll know in at least 30 days what Kemp’s going to do. ... I was very, very skeptical of this working, and we’ve spent so much money. And the taxpayers’ tolerance for the millions we’ve spent has reached an end.”
Information from: The Macon Telegraph.