Anderson/Pickens County line dispute may displace 29 families

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By Stan Welch
A sudden interest in an issue that has long lain dormant between Anderson and Pickens counties could result in the relocation, at least politically, of twenty nine families from Anderson County to Pickens County, and from Anderson School Districts One and Four to Easley schools.
At issue is a one hundred foot wide strip of land along the shared county lines. In 2002, the improvements in GIS, or the Geographic Information System, resulted in a more precise location of the county lines, and revealed the existence of the one hundred foot discrepancy along the disputed border.

According to Mike Freeman, Anderson County Assessor, there are approximately 95 parcels that are shared to some extent by the counties. Since the areas along the shared county lines weren’t well developed at that time, the two counties worked together on designating them.
“If we had a parcel, especially a large agricultural tract that spanned the county lines, we worked things out on a sort of a “you take that one, we’ll take this one” sort of a basis. And it worked fine. But their new administrator has apparently been instructed to push for a resolution.”
Freeman acknowledges that the line has been developed more in recent years, but doesn’t see any significant financial benefit for Pickens County by pursuing the annexation of the strip.
“It really isn’t a lot of money, but it will certainly disrupt a lot of people’s lives,” said Freeman.
Freeman added that he believes something can be worked out on the majority of the parcels, but he said the county and his department are standing firm on the twenty nine properties in Anderson School Districts One and Four.
“Those properties are heavily, if not wholly in Pickens County. But we want to see a plan for how they intend to handle the matters of technically relocating those people to different school districts, not to mention to another county altogether. That will certainly be a major disruption of those people’s lives.”
Of those twenty nine parcels, twenty seven are in School District One.
The two superintendents of those school districts were informed Tuesday of the dispute, and briefed on the current status.
Anderson District One Superintendent David Havird said District One wanted to be sensitive to those families that may be affected.  “We would love for those students that go to District One schools to  continue,” he said.
“We want to be thoughtful to the parents and do what is in the best interest of the students this impacts,” he said.
He said he had just informed the Anderson School District One Board of the issue Tuesday night and said that he will be talking with county officials about the situation.
Havird said he has seen similar situations in other areas of the state where the issue was worked out through a levy, establishment of a special district or the counties working it out with the schools.
Freeman said that he and other county officials had met with Pickens representatives a month ago, and the Pickens officials were basically placed on notice that the change in attitude rested with them, as did the responsibility for any impacts going forward.
“All those families have to be informed, and there will be a lot of explaining to do, unless I miss my guess. And if they insist on relocating those people to Pickens County, they will have to literally determine such things as which county the driveway is in, or which county the front porch is in,” said Freeman.
Pickens County Administrator Gerald Wilson is aware of the intricacies involved, but stresses that the process is currently nothing more than an exploration of the matters at hand.
“Right now, both counties are taxing property that is not in those counties, and is failing to tax properties that are in those respective counties. The problem was originally discovered in 2002, but no one had been willing to address and resolve the issues. That is the process we are at the start of now.”
Wilson offered assurances that nothing will change immediately, saying that determining the actual parcels and tracts of land is the first step. “Once we get the who, what and where figured out, we will start talking to people and getting their ideas and concerns. But the absolute soonest something might happen would be the 2018 school year.”
Pickens County Councilman Chris Bowers agreed. “This thing is in its infancy. It is a problem that needs to be handled and now is the time to handle it. We hope to have that done by the 2018 tax year, but we will receive input and share information with those few residents. We will talk this out and do the right thing. That is our intention.”
Anderson County Councilman Ken Waters, whose sixth district is largely involved, agrees that a solution can be reached. “We will work with folks to get this resolved.”