SUMMERVILLE — Because of a 19th-century mapping error, the new Berkeley-Dorchester county line now runs right through Susan Jones' apartment building.
She found out in November when she had paid a tax bill from Berkeley County and was told it had to be sent to the neighboring municipality. Had she lived just one apartment over in the 1900 building at Farmington Village apartments, she could have paid her taxes nearby.
"I had sent it in but was then told I had to go to Dorchester to pay the bill," Jones said. "It's kind of crazy."
Almost 20 years ago, surveyors realized that 2,900 acres of land in Dorchester County actually belonged in Berkeley because of a mapping error. On Nov. 7, the S.C. Geodetic Survey resolved the dispute.
But the unintended consequence of state-wide mapping has divided an apartment complex and a retirement home in Summerville, causing complications with emergency services, evictions and school district placement.
Dorchester County Administrator Jason Ward said neither county had input when it came to where the line was drawn.
"That is purely the state geodetic survey," Ward said. "It can get complicated, but it's out of our hands."
Daily life at the apartment complex has been unchanged by the county line shift, mostly, Jones said. But the semantics can get tricky.
Tenants at the Farmington Village Apartments have to keep in mind that whatever unit they end up selecting in the complex also determines what school district their children attend.
The majority of the apartment buildings in the complex are now in Berkeley. Approximately five of the buildings are now in Dorchester.
But for the 1900 building it is separated room by room. If a family lives in apartment 1903, they're sending their child to Berkeley County schools. But if a family lives in unit 1907, their children will attend Dorchester District 2 schools.
"If they move in there, they have to keep what schools their children are going to in mind," Dorchester County spokeswoman Tiffany Norton said.
Overall, 35 students from that district would be shifted to Berkeley County schools from Dorchester District 2 as a result of the boundary line moving. Approximately 41 students from Dorchester District 4 would be affected, too.
For some Farmington Village residents, like Drew Williamson, the shift has actually made life easier.
"I got lucky," Williamson said. "I'm on the Berkeley side. Now I actually live closer to where I pay my taxes."
It also affects evictions at the complex. Now, notices have to be filed through two different courts in two different counties.
"Eviction actions must be filed in the magistrate court that has jurisdiction over the property," Berkeley County spokeswoman Hannah Moldenhauer said.
The other property that is cut off by the new boundary line is the Village at Summerville, a retirement home off of 9th North Street. At least four buildings on the property are in Berkeley County.
"We've always had a Dorchester address," said Tim Barresi, the executive director at the Village at Summerville. "But about a quarter of our property is now in Berkeley County."
For the retirement community, the major issues of the boundary dispute revolve around emergency services. Since the transition, Dorchester EMS has been responding to the majority of the calls in the 13-mile stretch of land adopted into Berkeley County.
Starting July 1, Berkeley County will answer EMS and fire calls in the area. But Barresi said there is an agreement that Dorchester EMS will continue to respond to the retirement home after the calls get rerouted next month.
Dorchester County’s EMS has been recognized for its superior service numerous times. It was honored statewide in March as the “medical system of the year” by the S.C. EMS Association.
"We want what is best for our residents and their safety," Barresi said.
Both the Summerville Police Department and Berkeley County Sheriff's Office would respond to certain emergencies at both complexes, Norton said.
The mapping error dates from Dorchester County’s creation in 1897, the year it was carved out of portions of Berkeley and Colleton counties.