Chairman-elect says Monroe tired of ‘throwing money’ at Bibb border dispute

rmanley@macon.comNovember 12, 2012 

If the latest court petition fails, Monroe County Commission Chairman-elect Mike Bilderback says he does not plan to keep “throwing money” at court challenges in the border dispute with Bibb County.

Monroe officials have a mandamus petition pending in Fulton County Superior Court, where a lawsuit challenging Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s ruling in favor of Bibb County was thrown out in September. Mandamus petitions are filed to force government officials to carry out their duties.

“My position when I was running (for chairman) is I don’t see how any kind of court action is going to force the secretary of state to sign the plat because the (state) code sets out the methods for two counties to resolve this,” said Bilderback, who spearheaded the effort to dispute the counties’ border during a previous term on board.

“What we’ve learned throughout the process repeatedly is the court really has no jurisdiction in the matter. The secretary of state has jurisdiction. … I’ve said all along since we got into this court proceeding thing is it’s going to have to take a new secretary of state that’s willing to do their job to sign the plat.”

The Monroe-Bibb border was established by the Georgia Legislature in 1822, amended in 1877 and has been in dispute between the two counties since at least the 1940s. The stakes, however, are higher than ever since the area has seen much residential and commercial development in recent years.

The original survey from when Bibb was carved from Monroe has not been found. In 2005, a Monroe County grand jury demanded a new survey be drawn, and then-Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed a surveyor, Terry Scarborough, who eventually drew the border line farther south.

Scarborough’s survey would move into Monroe part of a subdivision and part of the Bass Pro Shops parking lot, as well as other infrastructure built by Bibb County.

Scarborough’s line centered on the Ocmulgee River ferry crossing that marked the eastern edge of the border line drawn in 1822. An administrative law judge affirmed Scarborough’s survey, but Kemp ruled in Bibb officials’ favor after they presented documents uncovered in Jones County that showed there could have been more than one ferry in the area.

Scarborough was denied his motion to be added as a party in the lawsuit and has since filed a notice of appeal saying he plans to appeal Kemp’s ruling to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Scarborough appealed to the Monroe County Commission at its meeting last week to continue to fight for the disputed border. He reiterated his claims that the documents presented to Kemp by Bibb County were “fraudulent,” a characterization Bibb officials have dismissed.

“As you are now aware, I am resolute with my intention to see to it that no opportunity to overcome the political tampering with the statutory process is left out of this fight for justice,” Scarborough wrote to the board in an e-mail Sunday. “The attacks upon my credibility as well as the cruelty of the loss of my home and business due to Bibb County refusing to pay me for over two years will not allow me to ‘just walk away.’ ”

Bilderback, who is Scarborough’s second cousin, said Kemp erred in allowing the documents because the information was allowed after the hearing’s discovery phase. Still, he said it is unlikely he’ll make the dispute a priority when he takes office.

“Of course, the Monroe County taxpayers are pretty fatigued on spending millions on this,” he said. “I want to see it solved as bad as anybody. I’m the one that started it. But throwing money at something when you know it’s not going to work doesn’t seem right.”

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service