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Troubleshooters: Dispute over County Boundry Line

READ MORE: Trouble with property tax in Columbus and Bladen counties
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He grew up going to Columbus County schools, and has been paying property taxes to Columbus County for years. So JD Davis did not know what to think when he got a notice from Bladen County recently, threatening to foreclose on his home for failure to pay property taxes. Mr. Davis lives on the Columbus/Bladen County line. Which side of that line he lies on depends on who you ask. The lot along the Cape Fear River has been in JD Davis' family since 1953. He grew up here, and moved back after spending years in the Army. "I don't like trouble. I'm over here peaceful, I don't bother anyone. I'd like to spend the rest of my days here, and then turn it over to my granddaughter," said Davis. But there is a big kink in his plans. While Mr. Davis has considered himself a Columbus County resident his whole life, Bladen County says he lives on their side of the county line. And they have sent him a letter, demanding thousands of dollars in back taxes. Making matters worse, Mr. Davis said the tax department would not take his calls when he tried to get this confusion straightened out. "Well I made three trips to Elizabethtown, got no response out of them. I tried calling, they won't answer my call. They finally learned my voice and got to where they would hang up on me." According to a map from the early 1900's, the Cape Fear River is the dividing line between Columbus and Bladen County. If that is the case, Mr. Davis is on the Columbus County side of the river. While the river would make for a logical county line, the “Welcome to Bladen County” sign lies about 500 yards before the river, just before you get to Mr. Davis' house. If the sign is right, he is in Bladen County. But Davis said the sign is wrong. He says Bladen County deputies will not even respond to his house, saying he's out of their jurisdiction, because he's on the Columbus County side of the river. So who is right? Columbus County agrees Mr. Davis is a Columbus County resident. WWAY talked to Bladen County manager Greg Martin to get his take. "I certainly want this matter to be resolved, not only for him but as well as for other people in the future." Believe it or not, problems like this crop up from time to time, especially in land locked counties that border many other counties; Bladen borders five. That is why the state has an agency that can resurvey boundary lines when the need arises. "We have had communication with the North Carolina geodetic survey office, actually this morning and Dennis Lee in that office. I understand that both boards are required to express interest in having the issue resolved,” said Martin. Columbus County Board of Commissioners had already agreed to have the boundary re-surveyed. Monday night, Bladen County agreed as well. We will keep you updated when the survey happens, and let you know which side of the county line Mr. Davis is actually on. As a side note, we have learned that Mr. Davis is not the only person this has happened to. We are told a number of other people who thought they were well within the Columbus County border have also been billed by the Bladen County tax office.

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nothing to worry about

He should have nothing to worry about. If he has paid taxes in Columbus County, but really lives in Bladen County, then I think Columbus County should have to come up with a refund, including interest, and penalties at least equal to what Bladen County is charging him, and it should take place immediately. A hold should be placed on this matter until the two counties can make up their mind where he really lives. He should not have to suffer because of their mistakes.

It sounds as though Bladen

It sounds as though Bladen County is going all out to generate more tax revenues from property taxes. I wonder how many people have simply paid them instead of fighting it. I think Bladen County would have a hard time explaining that they just realized this property is in their county and the fact that this is the first time they have ever billed him for it. They have a map showing that the river is the boundary. Does anyone have a map showing that the boundary is currently where the sign is? Since this man has never received any services from Bladen County and in fact did not even attend their schools while living in this house, then if it is decided that he is a resident of Bladen, the tax issue should be a wash. He should be able to start paying Bladen with the next years taxes that he owes, since if this property is in their county, then the tax office there had some responsibility for billing him years before now.

I feel sorry for the

I feel sorry for the gentleman. Bottom line, I don't see where Bladen County can come back and demand back taxes if this is the first time he's received notification. How can they justify making him pay back taxes. If the land is resurveyed and he is deemed a Bladen County resident, then Columbus County needs to reimburse him for the many years that he has paid Columbus County taxes. Also, if he is indeed a Bladen County resident, then he needs to start benefitting from that county's services, INCLUDING the sherriff's dept.

This is no surprise. The

This is no surprise. The government has been robbing people for years.

This is not surprising to

This is not surprising to me. The Bladen County tax office is staffed by crooks. For several years they billed us for a pool. we never had a pool. When I finally got them to remove it they said they "didn't make refunds". They do not send out the real estate listings each year, so unless you check your listing online, you have no idea if they've added something bogus or not. This is a scam. Many of the older residents don't even use the internet. Many of the older houses at Bay Tree Lakes are listed as having storage buildings or piers that have been torn down and never rebuilt.