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Wednesday May 31st

Orange, Alamance consider proposals to define county lines

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Some residents of Mebane may find themselves in a new county by 2012.

After more than 150 years of dispute, Orange County and Alamance County could agree on where to draw 91 percent of their border.

The remaining 9 percent could be defined by 2013, said Bruce Walker, Alamance’s geographic information systems manager.

The undefined boundary has left residents unsure of where their children would go to school, which elections they would vote in and which taxes they would pay — a problem that increased in recent years as the area developed.

“It never became a pressing issue,” said Orange County Commissioner Earl McKee, explaining how that has changed.

Orange and Alamance county commissioners are considering three different proposals to shape the frontier between the counties.
The proposals were drawn taking into consideration cost, legal precedent and resident displacement.

But some residents have expressed concern over what the new line will mean for them.

“It needs to stay where it is,” said Iris Bolden, a resident of Mebane. “I live in Orange County, and I want to stay in Orange County.”

The committee polled more than 100 people in 2008 to receive feedback on the possible lines.

“We need to locate it for the interest of both communities,” said McKee. “You will have less instances of when a property is half in Orange County and half in Alamance. But it will still happen.”

Despite the line’s new definition, some residents will still have to pay taxes in both counties based on the percentage of their property located in each county.

“It doesn’t even make sense to me,” said Andy Simmons, who lives in Alamance, 100 feet away from the border.

If Simmons found himself living in Orange County after the line changed, he said his taxes would increase.

Although Walker is confident that the two counties will finally come to an agreement, their job is not over yet.

The remaining unidentified 9 percent consists of mostly developed areas, including parts of Mebane, Tanger Outlets, small towns in northern Orange County and Collington Farms, Walker said.

“What we did was to start on what we agreed upon even though there was some delay,” Walker said.

Mapping out the line will also help resolve issues concerning emergency response, Walker said.

“I’m knocking on wood, but we’re very optimistic that it is going to end,” he said.

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