List of U.S. county secession proposals

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This is a list of county secession proposals in the United States; that is, proposed new counties to be formed from existing counties within a given state. For counties which want to secede from their current state and join or create another, see List of U.S. state partition proposals.


  • Chugiak and Eagle River are communities along the Glenn Highway between Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. Originally farming and homesteading communities with a distinct identity, they became better known starting in the 1970s as bedroom communities of Anchorage, and are currently located within its city limits (see below). In the wake of the incorporation of the Greater Anchorage Area Borough (in 1964) and subsequent efforts to merge the GAAB with Anchorage's city government (which began in 1966), Chugiak and Eagle River residents began their own efforts to attempt to secede from the GAAB. The culmination of these efforts, the Chugiak-Eagle River Borough, incorporated on August 27, 1974 with an area of 820 square miles (2,100 km2) and an estimated population of 5,832, before the incorporation was invalidated by the Alaska Supreme Court on April 14, 1975.[1] Five months later, the reconstituted GAAB and existing cities within its boundaries merged to form the Municipality of Anchorage. The population of Eagle River increased greatly during the 1980s and 1990s. This has led to renewed discussion during the 21st century on the part of Chugiak and Eagle River residents to secede from Anchorage.


  • Russell Pearce, a state legislator, has proposed a bill which would ease county splits, as part of his effort to split off the East Valley portion of Maricopa County. Two such attempts were made: the first one in the early 1990s included the cities and towns of Mesa (county seat), Chandler, Gilbert, Queen Creek, Tempe, and Guadalupe, while a second attempt in the early 2000s included the same cities and towns except for Tempe and Guadalupe. County splitting rules were made more restrictive after the formation of La Paz County in 1983, which required a significant state investment to keep the county running as the result of its small tax base.[2]
  • There is an ongoing movement in Lake Havasu City to split from Mohave County.[3]
  • In the late 1930s, differences between mining and ranching interests in Cochise County spurred a proposal to split the county, with the new county's seat at Willcox, which the state Legislature ultimately rejected
  • In the 1980s, a bill was successfully passed in the state legislature to create an all Indian county out of the northern halves of Navajo and Apache Counties, and the northeastern half of Coconino County. Non-Indian communities in the southern region of these counties felt that the Navajo and Hopi Nations do not pay a fair share in local taxes. The bill was vetoed by then governor Bruce Babbitt, who placed a five-year moratorium on its consideration. Subsequent attempts to revive the bill failed and the issue has not resurfaced in recent years.[4]




  • Milton County once existed, but in the 1930s it merged (along with other counties and towns) with Fulton County, in the 1930s to save money during the Great Depression. More recently, land-use and other divisions have inspired discussion of the re-establishment of Milton County.
  • In Gwinnett County there is an active movement for the secession of the more affluent Northern portion of the county, which feels it is poorly represented in the Lawrenceville government despite the large amount of tax revenue derived from the area.



  • Lincoln County: Southern Cook County communities, upset at Chicago-centric policies of the county government, petitioned in 2004 to split off the southern portion of the county. The southern communities argue they are in financial ruin due to bad policies limiting their ability to attract business, but critics contend that the area's problems stem from rampant city corruption.[13][14]
  • Marquette County: proposed county to be formed from Hancock County, which made progress in the state legislature in 1844.[15]


  • In a 2004 meeting of the Putnam County commissioners, the sentiment of splitting the county, in order to fairly distribute innkeepers' tax, is alluded to, but rejected as an invalid matter for the council.[16]


  • Garfield County: in 1887, the area around Ravanna and Eminence split from Buffalo County (now split among Lane, Finney, and Gray counties) and organized into Garfield County. Both towns were of equal influence, and contested the award of county seat. An election that year, which involved 20 Dodge City deputies including Bat Masterson, found Ravanna to have the lead. However, Eminence discovered that illegal votes had been cast for Ravanna, and in 1889 the state supreme court overturned 60 votes, awarding Garfield County seat to Eminence. In a doomsday move, Ravanna countered by hiring surveyors to determine that the new county's land area was under the minimum allowed at the time. In 1893 the Kansas state legislature invalidated the county and annexed it to Finney. Today, both Ravanna and Eminence are ghost towns.[17][18][19][20]


  • Throughout the history of Worcester County, the largest by area in the state, residents of the northern part of the county have pushed for a split. This never occurred, and is now a moot point as, like some other New England counties, the county government has been dissolved and its responsibilities assumed by the state.



  • Residents of Nye County, mainly in Pahrump and Tonopah, have pushed as recently as 2001 for a north-south county split, perhaps with the northern portion merging with Esmeralda County. While laws making it easier to form new counties have passed since then, this split has not occurred.[23] Nye is the largest county in Nevada and the third largest in the entire U.S., although over 90% is federal land.

New Jersey[edit]

  • The municipalities of western Essex County have discussed secession from the county, to create a new West Essex County, spurred mainly by a belief that tax laws benefit the eastern portions of the county at the expense of the western municipalities. Currently, this idea is essentially a dead movement

New York[edit]


  • In 1818, residents of the Barnesville greater area petitioned the state legislature for a new county seated at the city and formed from parts of Belmont, Guernsey, and Monroe counties. The proposal was rejected.[24]


  • In 2001, David Dillon, editor of The North Coast Citizen, proposed that a new county be formed from the northern portion of Tillamook County. Discussion and research on the new county, which was never named, stalled in 2002.[25]
  • In 1984, an effort was stopped by its promoter Wilbur Ternyik at the request of the governor as it was to assured to succeed in forming McCall County out of the western portion of Lane County and Douglas County. Lane County alone is the size of Connecticut or of Delaware and Rhode Island combined; 4620 square miles.[26]
  • In 2005, Keith Stanton began a petition to form a new county from the western portion of Lane County, the site of Eugene. The proposed county was named Siuslaw County. Stanton's petition was unsuccessful.[27]

South Carolina[edit]

  • Birch County, to be formed from portions of Lexington and Richland counties in the Midlands region of the state. Proposed in 2013, one-third of voters in the proposed county's area would have to petition the South Carolina Legislature to create a referendum on county creation. Two-thirds of voters in the proposed area would then be required to approve the referendum. Due to South Carolina's checkered voting rights history, the application for a new county would also require federal review and approval.[28]


  • Neshoba County, to be formed from part of Shelby County. Its formation was threatened in 1990 by rural communities after the city of Memphis proposed that the city's financially struggling school district merge with that of the county, which continues to be repeatedly considered.



  • Cascade County: from the rural eastern portions of King and Pierce counties[30]
  • Cedar County: from eastern King County.[30] A petition in support of the county collected 23,765 signatures, however the Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1998 that the state government was not obligated to act upon the petition and that the number of signatures was insufficient per the Washington State Constitution.[31]
  • Freedom County: from northern Snohomish County.[30] The 1998 decision against the proposed Cedar County was described as a "major setback" for this proposal as well.[31]
  • Independence County: form the east portion of Whatcom County. Both Pioneer and Independence movements cite poor services and oppressive property regulations, plus favoritism towards Bellingham as reasons for their proposals. Both are rumored to be backed by land developers.[32]
  • Olympic County: from western Clallam and Jefferson counties[30]
  • Pioneer County: from northern Whatcom County.[30] The 1998 decision against the proposed Cedar County was described as a "major setback" for this proposal as well.[31]
  • Puget Sound County: from southern King County; proposed in 1996[30]
  • Skykomish County: from southeastern Snohomish and northeastern King counties.[30] The 1998 decision against the proposed Cedar County was described as a "major setback" for this proposal as well.[31]
  • Whitehorse County: from Snohomish County[30]

West Virginia[edit]

  • Western Greenbrier County, West Virginia, to be formed from Greenbrier County. This political subdivision of the State of West Virginia shall be accomplished by the separation of one or more of the westernmost districts from the existing county. An official name for the county and a county seat have not been selected. Presently, the movement toward separation is not formally organized and is little more than dialog in social circles. Residents cite poor services and oppressive property regulations emanating from the county seat. A glimpse of the western end of the county reveals an area that is culturally stagnant, economically impoverished, and politically disenfranchised. A demographic observation of the area is that of a predominantly low income, blue collar, working class community. Poor infrastructure and little economic development contribute to this area's condition. Separation from the more affluent and economically vibrant eastern end of the county would give the western end a fresh start.
  • Paw Paw County to be formed from the northern part of Marion County and the southern and western parts of Monongalia County. The separatist movement is centered in and around Grant Town, the proposed county seat and bases the reason for the separation as the cultural homogeneity of the area and the lack of interest from the present government. The proposed county has a flag consisting of two gold stripes on a field of azure with a stylized likeness of the Grant Town Goon, a local Bigfoot-like creature reported to roam the area. The county is to be named for the Paw Paw Creek which drains most of the area.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mitchell, Elaine B., ed. (1975). Alaska Blue Book (Second ed.). Juneau: Alaska Department of Education, Division of State Libraries. p. 141. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ AABE-Difficult race relations continue between Apaches and Whites
  5. ^ MJEOL - Search
  6. ^ 2006 Primary Election Results, Santa Barbara County, California
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Noise News for Week of November 9, 1997
  10. ^ Orange County - 1866 to 1888
  11. ^ Sahagun, Louis (May 27, 1988). "Desert Dwellers Want Their Place in the Sun--Named Mojave County". Los Angeles Times. 
  12. ^ October 28, 1993; Florida Crossroads - Ocean County (The Florida Channel)
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Glen M. Leonard, Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, A People of Promise (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 2002), p. 308
  16. ^ Commissioners Meeting
  17. ^ 1998 Kansas Profiles
  18. ^ Kansas Counties
  19. ^ Garfield County - KS-Cyclopedia - 1912
  20. ^ Buffalo County - KS-Cyclopedia - 1912
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Pahrump Valley Times - Nye County's Largest Newspaper Circulation
  24. ^ Ol Jakob-First Generation
  25. ^
  26. ^ The Register-Guard, June 16, 1984, Siuslaw News June 20, 1984, The Oregonian, June 28, 1984
  27. ^ The Register-Guard, September 30, 2005 full page coverage, Siuslaw News Opinion Page, April 2005 though May 2006
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h "Activists propose new 'Puget Sound County'". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. AP. July 11, 1996. p. 5A. 
  31. ^ a b c d Hal Spencer (February 6, 1998). "New counties dealt major blow". The Spokesman-Review. AP. p. B8. 
    "Cedar County Committee v. Munro (No. 64958-8)". FindLaw. February 5, 1998. 
  32. ^ Paul de Armond; Jim Halpin (1994, 1995). "Steal This State". Archived from the original on February 4, 2006.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  33. ^ Wyoming City Wants its Own County | Growth & Public Policy | New West Network