Georgia Supreme Court allows Kemp, Bibb to appeal border decision

pramati@macon.comMarch 18, 2013 

In the latest chapter of the Bibb County-Monroe County border saga, the Georgia Supreme Court on Monday decided to allow Bibb County and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to appeal lower court rulings from January.

The court’s order cited concerns related to a decision made by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly A. Lee in January, in which she ordered Kemp to use a 2009 survey by Terry Scarborough to set the border. That decision would move the Monroe County line further south into what is now Bibb County.

In her Jan. 23 order, Lee wrote that the secretary of state is “specifically charged with determining the county boundary line. He failed to do so here.”

Soon after the order, Kemp filed an appeal with the Georgia Court of Appeals. Kemp said in his appeal that Lee’s decision was at odds with existing law and the executive function of his office.

About the same time, Bibb County Attorney Virgil Adams filed an appeal after Lee blocked Bibb from joining Kemp’s case and not informing Bibb County officials about that hearing until after it had taken place.

The Supreme Court order highlights several questions, which center on whether Kemp could be ordered by Lee to accept the border and whether Lee erred in denying Bibb County’s motion to intervene.

Bibb County and Kemp now have 10 days to file a notice of appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. Once the case is docketed, the county and Kemp have 20 days to file briefs and a listing of errors they believe were made in lower courts. After that, Monroe County will have 20 days to respond with its own briefs.

Adams said that entire process likely won’t finish until May or June, and it could take six months for the court to hear the case. That means the court may not make a decision until the end of the year or early 2014.

Monroe County Commission Chairman Mike Bilderback said Monday he hasn’t seen a copy of Monday’s decision as of late afternoon. He declined to comment until he had the chance to read it.

The 2009 survey by Scarborough, which is at the heart of the dispute, would have a major impact on infrastructure, homes, businesses and hundreds of thousands of dollars of annual property taxes in Bibb and Monroe counties.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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