By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO September 17, 2002 For two centuries, Sullivan and Orange counties have disputed their border in the towns of Mamakating and Forestburgh in Sullivan County and Mount Hope and Deerpark in Orange. After much legal wrangling, it appears that dispute may finally be settled by early next year.
The matter was discussed at the Sullivan County Legislature's Executive Committee meeting on Thursday. Committee Chair Leni Binder turned the discussion over to the key people working on the settlement: County Attorney Ira Cohen and Sullivan County Real Property Tax Services Director Paul Burckard.
"We have been working on this for several years," Cohen commented. "There is a tentative agreement. We have to send out the assessors to straighten out the lines."
"This issue is over 200 years old," remarked Burckard. "The line has never been agreed upon. We want to do this with the least amount of disruption [to home and property owners along the line]."
The line stretches 15 miles from west to east through mostly wooded land. The border was intended to be a straight line, passing through residential properties in Cuddebackville, Westbrookville, Oakland Valley and Winterton. In the past, some of the properties have been double-taxed by both counties, leading to lawsuits.
Both Sullivan and Orange officials will send an assessor out to draw the line. Once the line is decided, permanent markers will be erected. The estimated cost is about $140,000, but it was unclear if that would be the county's share or the total cost.
Most of the details were discussed in executive session. A special Executive Committee meeting has been called for this Thursday at noon to further discuss this and other issues. At that meeting, Cohen and Binder expect to have a resolution introduced that would give Cohen the power to settle the litigation.
Once the line is drawn, it goes before the courts. Once the court sets the boundary, both sides have to agree to it. Work should begin in mid-October, and Cohen expects the dispute to be settled by the early part of next year.