After 18 years, efforts to technically re-establish the 334-mile-long South Carolina – North Carolina border were completed in May 2013 when the Joint Boundary Commission approved the technical work for the last 91 miles. But the first attempt to officially set the border is far from resolved.
The commission was created to officially designate the border between the two states. That hasn’t been done since a 1772 survey, which set the border using trees and rocks that no longer exist.
State Sen. Wes Hayes, R-York, is a member of the commission. He suggested that the real work begins now and will include resolving issues flaring up once some people suddenly find out that their residency has been shifted to another state.
“How (are we) going to handle taxes for these people?” Hayes told South Carolina Radio Network. “Or whether the children will continue to go to school in the state where they were going to school or have to move to another school? Will they be able to get in-state tuition at colleges? Those types of things.”
Hayes attended a meeting of the Joint Boundary Commission on Friday. He said about 90 properties would shift states, affecting a number of families and one business.
Hayes said wording on the final border must be agreed upon and passed by the general assemblies in both states and signed by both governors. “One bill needs to be passed re-establishing the line between the two states, but then there would have to be a lot of other legislation to try to deal with the individuals impacted.”
Hayes pointed out that the work is being done to “reestablish” the original border dividing the two states. Only an act of Congress can actually move or change a state border.
Hayes said the study of long-established records including deeds nearly three centuries old, the discovery of surviving stone boundary markings, and the use of modern equipment by a number of surveyors has resulted in an accurate reestablishment of the border. The senator said the new line should be within centimeters of the original border.
“It might change 20 to 30 feet in one area or 20 to 30 feet in another, but sometimes that 20 to 30 feet might be enough to pick up a house or a business, mostly houses,” he said. “We had one business that has been affected. The majority of people affected by the change would be around the Charlotte, Rock Hill, Gastonia area where large development has occurred along the border.
Hayes said neither state has gained a significant increase in territory or population.
Hayes pointed out that a major snag could result from one South Carolina business that would be placed in Gaston County, N.C. The business is a profitable convenience store, Lake Wylie Mini Mart, which has benefitted for years from North Carolina customers who cannot buy alcohol or fireworks in Gaston County or who pay higher North Carolina gas taxes. The business’s owners have previously said they expect to close if they are placed in North Carolina.
This issue may hamstring the entire border re-establishment process as the store owner is likely to legally challenge the moving of his business into North Carolina.
Hayes says the next Joint Boundary Commission meeting will be held in October. While there is no concrete timetable, Hayes says it is likely that the proposed legislation would be introduced in both state legislatures next January, with a both bodies likely passing the measure in June 2015.