Walter Danchak is indeed a Lumpkin County resident.
A Dec. 9 decision by Secretary of State Karen Handel ended Danchak’s nearly nine-year battle to determine whether he lived in Dawson or Lumpkin County.
“Both my wife and I feel very vindicated. This has gone on a long time,” said Danchak, who lives on Lake Lanier near where Dawson, Lumpkin and Hall counties come together.
The land dispute began in 2000 when Danchak questioned the accuracy of the original land survey, which was conducted in 1857.
Though considered a Dawson County resident, Danchak believed his land and more than a dozen neighboring parcels actually fell within Lumpkin County. He pursued the claim in court.
“When I purchased this property in 1984, I actually thought I lived in Dawson County,” he said. “But then a relative of the former property owner told me I lived in Lumpkin County.”
About that same time, Danchak began receiving property tax and car tag bills from both counties.
But Danchak, who received what should be his last tax bill from Dawson County about a week ago, said the issue was never about the taxes.
Over the years, he received car tag bills from one county and property taxes from the other.
“The taxes are about the same in both counties,” he said. “But I’ll be honest with you, I read the Bible every day and I was brought up to seek and tell the truth. I knew at that point I was not telling the truth. It’s as simple as that.”
Danchak’s claim eventually led to a new survey approved by the commissions of both Lumpkin and Dawson County.
Handel’s ruling states that the “survey map by Moreland Altobelli Associates Inc. adequately defines the boundary line.”
Danchak was not the only property owner affected by Handel’s decision.
“There are about 14 other properties that are now officially in Lumpkin County,” Danchak said. “Some are occupied and some are not.”
He said the biggest frustration over the years was that neither county would take responsibility and look into fixing the problem.
“That’s why I had to push so hard and take this to the grand juries and to the secretary of state,” he said.
Mike Berg, chairman of the Dawson County commission, said he is glad to see the matter resolved.
“It basically turned out the way it was probably supposed to,” he said. “For the citizens that live in that area, it’s good for them to know where they finally are.”
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.