153A-18. Uncertain or disputed boundary.

(a) If two or more counties are uncertain as to the exact location of the boundary between them, the North Carolina Geodetic Survey (NCGS), on a cooperative basis, shall assist counties in defining and monumenting the location of the uncertain or disputed boundary as established in accordance with law. Upon receiving written request from all counties adjacent to the uncertain or disputed boundary, the NCGS may cause the boundary to be surveyed, marked, and mapped. The counties may appoint special commissioners to supervise the surveying, marking, and mapping. A commissioner so appointed or a person surveying or marking the boundary may enter upon private property to view and survey the boundary or to erect boundary markers. Upon ratification of the survey by the board of commissioners of each county, a map showing the surveyed boundary shall be recorded in the office of the register of deeds of each county in the manner provided by law for the recordation of maps or plats and in the Secretary of State's office. The map shall contain a reference to the date of each resolution of ratification and to the page in the minutes of each board of commissioners where the resolution may be found. Upon recordation, the map is conclusive as to the location of the boundary. Upon reestablishing all, or some portion, of a county boundary, and if after the NCGS submits the results of the survey to the requesting counties, and the requesting counties have not ratified the reestablished boundary within one year of receiving the (map) survey plat denoting the location of the reestablished boundary, the survey plat will become conclusive as to the location of the boundary and will be recorded in the Register of Deeds in each affected county and in the Secretary of State's office. The Chief of the NCGS (State Surveyor) will notify each affected party in writing of the action taken. As used in this subsection, an "affected party" means both (i) the governing body of a county that the reestablished boundary denotes the extent of its jurisdiction and (ii) a property owner whose real property has been placed in whole or in part in another county due to the reestablished boundary.

(b) If two or more counties dispute the exact location of the boundary between them, and the dispute cannot be resolved pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, any of the counties may apply to a superior court judge who has jurisdiction pursuant to G.S. 7A-47.1 or 7A-48 in any of the districts or sets of districts as defined in G.S. 7A-41.1 in which any of the counties is located for appointment of a boundary commission. The application shall identify the disputed boundary and ask that a boundary commission be appointed. Upon receiving the application, the court shall set a date for a hearing on whether to appoint the commission. The court shall cause notice of the hearing to be served on the other county or counties. If, after the hearing, the court finds that the location of the boundary is disputed, it shall appoint a boundary commission.

The commission shall consist of one resident of each disputing county and a resident of some other county. The court may appoint one or more surveyors to assist the commission. The commission shall locate, survey, and map and may mark the disputed boundary. To do so it may take evidence and hear testimony, and any commissioner and any person surveying or marking the boundary may enter upon private property to view and survey the boundary or to erect boundary markers. Within 45 days after the day it is appointed, unless this time is extended by the court, the commission shall make its report (which shall include a map of the surveyed boundary) to the court. To be sufficient, the report must be concurred in by a majority of the commissioners. If the court is satisfied that the commissioners have made no error of law, it shall ratify the report, after which the map shall be recorded in the office of the register of deeds of each county in the manner provided by law for the recordation of maps or plats and in the Secretary of State's office. Upon recordation, the map is conclusive as to the location of the boundary.

The disputing counties shall divide equally the costs of locating, surveying, marking, and mapping the boundary, unless the court finds that an equal division of the costs would be unjust. In that case the court may determine the division of costs.

(c) Two or more counties may establish the boundary between them pursuant to subsection (a) of this section. Those boundaries are defined by natural monuments such as rivers, streams, and ridgelines. The use of base maps prepared from orthophotography may be used if said natural monuments are visible, which base maps show the monuments of the National Geodetic Survey and North Carolina Coordinate System established pursuant to Chapter 102 of the General Statutes. The orthophotography shall be prepared in compliance with the State's adopted orthophotography standard. Upon ratification of the location of the boundary determined from orthophotography by the board of commissioners of each county, the map showing the boundary and the monuments of the National Geodetic Survey and North Carolina Coordinate System shall be recorded in the Office of the Register of Deeds of each county and in the Secretary of State's office. The map shall contain a reference to the date of each resolution of ratification and to the page in the minutes of each board of commissioners where the resolution may be found. Upon recordation, the map is conclusive as to the location of the boundary. (1836, c. 3; R.C., c. 27; Code, s. 721; Rev., s. 1322; C.S., s. 1299; 1925, c. 251; 1973, c. 822, s. 1; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1037, s. 121; 1997-299, s. 1; 2017-170, s. 2.)