What happens if I live on a town/county/state/international border?

I’m not sure if it could happen, but say I build my house on a state line, so that part of my house is in Maryland, and part of it is in Pennsylvania. What happens with mail and taxes and things? I’m talking any boundary, be it towns, counties, states, or even countries.

IANAL but I had heard that your occupancy depends on where you sleep.
So, unless your bed straddles the boundary line, your a citizen of X based on the location of your bedroom.

I’m willing to take the arrows on being wrong about this.

Didn’t I hear that there’s something with New York and Canada like this?

I wonder how often this scenario actually happens…I live near a town that resides in four counties, but that’s as weird as I’ve seen it.

Most of the legal questions in such a situation will,I imagine, be resolved by looking at your mailing address.

Your mailing address will be determined by your post office. Your post office will be in either one state or the other.

[anecdote alert!] I know people who live in small towns without post offices, and the post office in the neighboring town took them under their jurisdiction, and asked that all their mail be addressed with the post office’s city instead of their own.[/aa!]

ETA: I like enipla’s answer better, actually.

I take care of parcel lines and jurisdictions for County government. I work very closely with the assessor and planning department.

I suppose it could happen on a poorly surveyed property. But a boundary like that will be a tax jurisdiction line. And a tax jurisdiction line will be a parcel line. And even if you own both properties, you can’t build on a parcel line.

You might be able to get some sort of special use permit or amendment, but it would be hell to do across jurisdictional boundaries. If it was done by accident, it may never be discovered, and I suspect your ‘legal’ status would remain in whatever county you pulled your permits from.

I don’t/can’t get mail delivered to my house. Instead I have a POB in a different county than I live (I work in that county).

There is a hotel in Tahoe that straddles the California/Nevada border. There is a line painted down the middle along the State line. All of the slot machines are on the Nevada side.

My mother’s house is part in one town and part in the next. She pays taxes to and receives municipal services from the one where more of the property lies.

Before you build a house, you have to get permits from the government. Lots and lots and lots and lots of permits. The land has to be surveyed, your lot has to be established, and your building space also has to be established.

At some point someone in the gummint is going to say “I don’t think so.”

If you did it without the required permits from the government, not having an address in a specific town would be the least of your troubles.

The Haskell Free Library and Opera House straddles the international border. It has an address in both Derby Line, VT and Stanstead, QC. Time magazine has an article about the town of Derby Line/Stanstead: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,948520-1,00.html

There’s also the strange case of Baarle-Nassau/Baarle-Hertog in Belgium/Netherlands.
Maps: http://ontology.buffalo.edu/smith//baarle.htm
Photos: http://geosite.jankrogh.com/baarle.htm
More photos: http://rz-home.de/~mhaertel/baarle2002/dia.cgi?1

When I was in school I had friends who’s houses straddled the district lines. Their parents had to let someone from the district do a home visit and verify that their bedroom was in the district. One girl’s parents actually pretended that their dining room was in fact her bedroom.

That’s true now, but not so much 100 years ago. Many older homes were built before permits were common. Plus municpal borders can change over time.

Besides working for the county government, I used to draw up ILCs (Improvement Location Certificates). The primary purpose of his instrument was to insure that structures do not encroach into easements, building set backs or property lines. You need to get one of these (in Colorado) to satisfy title guarantees to secure a loan.

Let me clarify re building on parcel lines.

In the county that I work for, we simply will not let you build on a parcel line. But if you own both parcels, you can vacate it, provided it does not serve as a jurisdictional boundaries.

Screw ups happen of course. And today, any jurisdictional boundary changes follow property lines. You might be able to get the jurisdiction moved provided that it can be determined what services you will be using (school, water, other special districts)

There is also another type of property combination (at least in Colorado) an administrative combine. Our tax rates are much higher for vacant land. If one property has a residence on it and you own the adjacent property, you can do and administrative combine so that you get a better tax rate. The administrative combine does not allow you to build on the parcel line though.

Like I said, screw ups happen and strange stuff happens. Like this -

One area in contention in Colorado is a boundary between two counties. Part of the boundary was defined as the continental divide. Well, a huge mining operation moved the continental divide. Now what? I believe in this case it was resurveyed and the boundary stayed in the same place (except lower). :slight_smile:

It may be an urban legend, but I recall reading that the Belgium/Netherlands situation, taxes are assed against you based on the location front door of your house. And that people occasionaly move the door to get a lower tax rate.

There’s a spot on the Alberta/BC border (which, at that section, is the continental divide) where there’s a stream on either side of a six foot high ridge, and one stream runs north to Alberta while the other runs south to BC. I always wanted to know what the map people would do to me if I dug out a section of that ridge.

(The stream running into BC drains about an acre of the province running north before it hits that ridge, turns east, and then south again a bit downhill.)

One of my five year old daughter’s best friends is having to deal with this situation. The family lives down the street from us and has always has always had the same town as an address as we do. When they went to enroll their son in kindergarten, they found out that although their mailbox is in our town, most of their house is in the next town over. This is a problem because there are vast differences in demographics and school district quality between the two. They sought legal council and found out that previous owners sued for their kids to attend the town of their address and lost. They didn’t know this when they bought the house unfortunately.

If you where in Colorado, you’d have hell to pay. But not from the likes of map makers. It would have more to do with diverting stream flow, water rights and wetland issues.

I run into this at work in an unusual situation. The prison where I work straddles the borders of two seperate towns and both of them are trying to claim our population as part of their town. It would give either town about a ten percent increase in population. The state’s already provided all of the services for the prison so it’s essentially “free” residents state aid purposes.

Can I ask what the name of the prison is? It seems like this kind of stuff happens more back east. As a GIS person I’d be curious to know if the county has a GIS system.

The which side the bedroom is on is quite interesting and quaint.

Not straddling a border, but forming one: I have relatives whose garden fence is part of the line between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. And it’s always just been a wire fence, throughout the troubles. Bother to use the main road outside their house, and for a long time you’d have been faced with big army checkpoints. Thankfully, it’s now no problem for them to drive up the road to their nearest shop, over the border, to buy a pint of milk.

Santa Clara and San Jose “share” one of the most lucrative shopping malls around: Valley Fair. They have worked out some sort of tax treaty as to who pays what, etc.