ATLANTA — Legislation sponsored by Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, to create boundary line commissions to survey and mark Georgia’s northern border at the 35th parallel of latitude received a unanimous “do pass” recommendation from the Senate Rules Committee.
“This resolution does not change Georgia’s borders,” Sen. Shafer said. “Both federal and state law recognizes the 35th parallel as Georgia’s northern border. This resolution simply calls for the border to be accurately surveyed and correctly marked.”
He cites an 1818 survey error that tracked the Georgia-Tennessee border about a mile south of the 35th parallel, but Sen. Shafer said that neither the Georgia General Assembly nor the United States Congress ever accepted the erroneous boundary line.
“In fact, current Georgia law continues to define the state’s northern border at the 35th parallel,” Sen. Shafer said.
Tennessee officials have scoffed at the resolution and its claim the border should be moved after nearly 200 years of existence.
And they have criticized the effort as a veiled attempt by a thirsty Atlanta, unwilling to control reckless sprawl, to get access to the bountiful Tennessee River.
Bart Crattie, a historian and surveyor from Lookout Mountain, Ga., said surveys in 1818 and 1826 were off due to bad pieces of primitive equipment. And the University of Georgia professor sent by Georgia to survey the land had begged the governor at the time for better pieces of the primitive equipment, to no avail.
Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a surveyor by profession, said nearly 200 years of “adverse possession” of the disputed strip of land carries a lot of weight.
Georgia has raised the issue before, and in 1974 the federal courts ducked, telling the two states “to reserve resolution of the general boundary issue until a later date.”
Sen. Shafer said he believes resolution of the border issue will open the way to discussions about water sharing.
Senate Resolution 822 asks the governor to contact the governors of Tennessee and North Carolina to arrange for boundary commissions to settle the dispute.
And it creates Georgia-Tennessee and Georgia-North Carolina Border Line Commissions in Georgia to be ready to work with commissions from the other states.