County dispute jeopardizes home locations

January 15, 2008 2:25:26 PM PST
Dozens of property owners along the Wake-Franklin County border will get some surprising news in the mail in the coming week.

Their homes or farms are not where they thought they were. The discovery was triggered by some border confusion first discovered in the Richland Hills subdivision in Wake Forest.

"We thought it was a mistake," Wake-Franklin County resident Stacey Brown said.

Brown and her family bought their home four years ago because she thought it was in Wake County.

"I work for the school system," Brown said. "And my son goes to school in Wake County."

But six months after moving in, she received a Franklin County tax bill. She and three neighbors were actually living in Franklin County.

"On the old maps, if the mapping contractor was off by a pencil width, it was 50 feet," Tim Maloney, Wake County Community Services, said.

And some maps were based on old markers.

"Tree stumps, rocks, fence posts," Maloney said. "Over time, those things tend to disappear."

County officials initially tried to cut Brown and three neighbors a break by moving the border so they lived in Wake County. But then a larger check of the border found 68 properties listed in the wrong county.

One house even sets in both counties.

Now officials don't want to make any exception.

"If we accommodate a jog for these parcels, then we would have to accommodate a jog for 64 other parcels," Maloney said.

More than five dozen property owners will soon get letters explaining changes in borders, property values, tax bills and maybe school districts.

"They're probably not going to be pleased," Maloney said.

"We don't laugh about it," Brown said. "We've spent countless hours trying to get it resolved."

But so far, the counties say the answer is moving again from one county to another whole keeping the same address.


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