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Joe Folsom, Real Estate Pro in Ellijay, GA

Boundary & Property Line Dispute In GA

Asked by Joe Folsom, Ellijay, GA Sat Jun 9, 2012

I have a few questions regarding the exact property line when next to a river or large creek. This property is in the state of GA and is technically a creek but large enough to float a kayak, raft or canoe. One party says the state owns 30 feet on each side of the creek because it is classified as a trout stream. The other party says their property line goes to the middle of the creek. Tax records show the property line varying (depending on the specific lot in question). Some lots show GIS in the middle of the creek while others at the waters edge and yet others about 30 feet up the shore. It is not consistent on the tax records GIS maps. I found one Attorney that says if it is navigable it is to shore line and if not navigable to center of creek (navigable defined as large enough to transport freight on a barge.....which this creek is not). See link here for his reprot:…

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Thanks Roland. Here is the real issue..... Lot in question is in a large gated community. This particular lot is common space with a club house for residents and guests. Some residents and guests are abusing the beach area at the rivers edge by partying much too hard late at night and even over night, getting drunk, leaving empty cans and bottles and even shooting guns. Some say the HOA can not govern this because they are partying within the 30 feet they say is GA State property and not part of the development even though they pass through development property to get there. HOA has passed rules with curfew at the clubhouse and grounds, but some residents say HOA can not enforce because the actual partying is at rivers edge and not on development property. HOA just wants to maintain safety for development. We have security staff and I just want to know if we can enforce our rules, curfew, proper decorum at the rivers edge like we do at the clubhouse.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 10, 2012
Flowing water is frequently a property boundary. And you can gain or lose land when and if it changes course. That does happen. Often in my experience, the line goes to the center of the creek. If it is a river or small lake, then that may be the channel. In NY, the State sometimes has a ROW on trout streams, 20-30', allowing public access along it (but not across the rest of your land). Maybe in Georgia, they actually own it, but I suspect not.

Do not depend upon tax and GIS records; they can be wrong. Yes, they are often the best maps we have to work with, so we use them anyhow, but they do not describe legal boundaries. A survey does. You may not need this land surveyed, but a surveyor who has worked nearby may be the best person to easily shed light upon your question. If they know the answer without having to research it, they may not even charge for their advice.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 10, 2012
Thanks Hank. I have a call into a surveyor as you suggested.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 10, 2012
Waterways (and that is an exceptionally broad term as you saw) can be a bear to establish boundaries with because they are not fixed locations. Creeks, rivers, my experience protected areas are measured from the center of the object out to shore. The state is involved but in many instances so is the Army Corps of Engineers so you may get two differing opinions.

You can see the confusion that's common with what the attorney said - they are likely just reading the statute as it's written - clearly ambiguous. I would speak with a surveyor that's familiar with the area and has shot property with bodies of water. Guys in the field are typically more experienced in the day to day than guys driving desks....

But - expect variables anytime you bring water into an equation.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 10, 2012
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