COLUMBIA — Just exactly where the line is that separates the Carolinas may be in dispute for more months to come.
A special commission trying to hash out problems created when South Carolina and North Carolina resurveyed their state line may not complete its work until spring, according to The State newspaper of Columbia.
That’s when officials plan to finish retracing the last 31 miles of the 334-mile border. Officials had hoped to finish work 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.”
The panel, which is overseeing the first full survey of the state line between the Carolinas in more than 200 years, has been working on the project for nearly two decades. Gary Thompson, the commission’s North Carolina co-chairman, blamed the delay on the bureaucratic process.
“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. The original border dates back to the 1700s, when surveyors marked the border by carving notches into trees. But centuries later, most of those trees are gone — casualties of nature and development.
The original surveyors didn’t have precise instruments like GPS that allowed their modern counterparts to draw the state line within a centimeter or two. The new work shifts the state line in several areas a few hundred feet one way or the other.
Creating a new border would require congressional approval and would be more expensive. So officials from both states have been retracing the original 18th century border, scavenging libraries and courthouse drawers for old maps.
Clarifying the border means some people who thought they lived in South Carolina actually live in North Carolina. The commission is trying to lessen the impacts of changing school districts, utilities and possible back taxes as much as they can.