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Berkeley Co. gets sued over 911 plan

March 20, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A plan to change the names of 500 roads in Berkeley County as part of an enhanced 911 system will cost businesses and homeowners millions of dollars and damage the county's tourism business by using "generic, sterile names that have no identification with our county," according to a suit filed against the county.

The costs will stem from address changes that will have to be made on car registrations, licenses, bank accounts, letterheads and business advertising, according to the suit filed by Berkeley County Citizens for Common Sense 911.

The suit claims that the plan uses no logical numbering sequence and will cause widespread confusion, and that the county is discriminating against a large part of the population by requiring them to buy and erect their own street signs. The suit said some signs are being installed at no cost to people who live on "selected roads."

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The suit also complains about the distribution of 911 address change packets in the county, saying they were delivered on wrong streets and "hung by rubber bands on cars, railings and fences."

Berkeley County Citizens for Common Sense 911 are requesting an injunction to stop implementation of the new 911 system.

They also are asking to recover unspecified damages for costs businesses and homeowners must incur and for the reduced value of their property due to the road name changes.

Named as defendants in the suit are the Berkeley County Commission; 911 director Mary Kackley; Norwood Bentley, attorney for the commissioners; and James C. Smith, former president of the commissioners.

The suit, filed in Berkeley County Circuit Court, is the second to be filed over the enhanced 911 plan.

A couple in Hedgesville, W.Va., claimed in a suit against the commissioners that the decision to rename a road in their development Big F Park Road carries a negative sexual connotation. Paul D. and Carolyn S. Oliver also claim the name has depreciated the value of their $205,000 house.

Commissioner D. Wayne Dunham declined to comment in detail about the latest suit. The plan simply tries to eliminate the number of roads with duplicate names so rescue crews will not become confused when responding to emergencies, Dunham said.

"We're doing it because we care about the people," said Dunham.

Tom Grove, a spokesman for Berkeley County Citizens for Common Sense 911, also said little about the action.

He said the suit speaks for itself. "The allegations are serious," Grove said.

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