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Thousands of Washington County properties could get new addresses under proposed ordinance

Commissioners to schedule a public hearing on the issue

May 08, 2012|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Sharpsburg Area Emergency Medical Services Assistant Chief Jonas Zeigler, left, listens to Washington County Director of Emergency Services Kevin L. Lewis as he requests funds for a new ambulance during a meeting of the Washington County Board of Commissioners. A proposed county ordinance would be designed to make it easier for emergency responders to find locations, Emergency Services Director Kevin L. Lewis said Tuesday.
Herald-Mail file photo

Thousands of Washington County properties could end up with new addresses under a proposed county ordinance that would be designed to make it easier for emergency responders to find locations, Emergency Services Director Kevin L. Lewis said Tuesday.

The Washington County Board Commissioners agreed Tuesday to schedule a public hearing on a proposed “Addressing Ordinance” that would create standards for naming roads and numbering properties to avoid confusion and duplication.

“Often times ... we get into such things as where addresses are out of sequence ... we may have three, four, five, six residents sharing a common driveway, (or have) addresses in the wrong address block,” Lewis said. “We may be looking for a house number within an address block only to find the addresses skip numbers or sections.”

For decades, the county has initiated changes to road names and addresses to correct such issues, but it has never had an ordinance to guide those changes, Lewis said.

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The ordinance would codify the unwritten guidelines the county has used for years, providing official guidance in the event that a property owner protests a proposed change, Planning and Zoning Director Stephen Goodrich said.

A road may be renamed to correct duplicative or similarly-sounding road names and spells out a process for doing so, according to a draft of the ordinance.

Affected property owners would have a chance to suggest new names for the road and to vote from the approved submissions, the draft said.

Address numbers may be reassigned if the existing number is out of sequence, not consecutive, a duplicate, or violates odd-even protocol, among other circumstances, under the proposed ordinance.

The proposal also would govern naming of new roads, road signs, the address-assignment process, and standards for displaying address numbers on homes and buildings.

Homes would have to have 3-inch-high numbers affixed to the structure, while other buildings would have to have 6-inch numbers. If the home or building is more than 25 feet from the roadway, the access point would also have to display the number, the draft said.

“This is something that’s sorely needed,” County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said.

But he warned that it would likely lead to complaints, “especially if it happens to hit a business that says, ‘I have to send out notices to every customer I have in my database.’”

Goodrich said the proposed ordinance is designed to make the address change process as painless as possible for those affected.

Lewis said after the meeting that of the nearly 61,000 addresses in the county, more than 9,000 of them — or about 15 percent — would be out of compliance with road-name or -numbering standards and would be eligible for possible changes.

A date for the public hearing has not been set.

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