Legislation filed last week would move the spot where Wake, Harnett and Chatham counties intersect southwest of Raleigh, settling a boundary dispute that complicates tax collection and other jurisdictional issues.
Under House Bill 1082, the county boundary would move from a marker placed by a surveyor in 1961 to a spot about 500 feet to the southwest, "marked by an existing iron pipe located in a rock pile," the bill says.
That point was determined with help from the North Carolina Geodetic Survey, which assisted Wake and Harnett county governments in finding the correct spot based on old deeds and property records. Geodetic Survey officials told The News & Observer last year that the iron pipe had been driven into the ground sometime between 1780 and 1923, replacing a nearby hickory tree that had originally served as the county corner.
More changes could be ahead. "The adoption of the official tri-county corner by this act will not have an immediate effect on or require the relocation or reconfiguration of any Harnett County parcels," the bill says. "Harnett County parcels will only be affected upon further mapping of the Wake-Harnett boundary line and/or the Harnett-Chatham boundary line which may occur in the discretion of the counties at a future date."
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Surveyors don't think the bill would affect any homes or residents who'd change counties, but it includes a provision that would allow any public school students impacted by the change to stay in the school district they currently attend.
Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican, sponsored the bill at the request of county leaders. While the disputed area is undeveloped now, he said, "as the population grows, there's starting to be more homes built. It's getting to be an issue that needs to be resolved."
The bill would take effect on Jan. 1, 2019, with changes for property tax purposes going into effect on July 1, 2019.
Wake was originally carved from Cumberland, Johnston and Orange counties. According to an official county history, Wake was formed in 1771 at the request of those living in southern Orange County — now southwestern Wake and eastern Chatham counties — who complained of the "'vast distance' from their homes to the Orange County seat of 'Hillsburrah' (Hillsborough)."