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Local officials crack down on problematic addresses

Article Date: 
5 October, 2012 (All day)

In the name of public safety, the Morgan County Council is ready to take on pesky address issues, including involving city officials.
In the middle of updating a county address master list using grant money, county staff continues to run into several addressing issues like streets that have multiple names and numbers out of sequence.  
The County Council gave planning and development services staff direction that from now on, streets countywide can only have up to two names, one a number and one a letter.
For example, the city street known as State Street, 300 North, and Highway 66 will no longer be able to bear three names.  Charles Ewert, interim county planning and development services director, said some county road segments are known by as many six different names.
“If you want emergency services to come to your door, this is a life safety thing,” Ewert said.  
County officials know correcting address issues throughout the county has the potential to anger some residents.
“We would make a lot of people really mad if we wipe it all out and start all over,” Ewert said.  “We need to try to find the really problematic outliers and readdress those.  These are hard decisions when citizens kick back.”
Council members said changing residents address would mean a “burden” of changing a mailing address, getting new checks printed, noting the change on voting records, recording the new address on property titles, and notifying utility companies.  In most cases, these things must be done by the home owner rather than by county staff.  However, county staff can help by providing a change of address affidavit.  
Councilwoman Ronda Kippen said a change of address should not affect mortgages on homes, as loans are tied to a tax identification number and physical description rather than a site address.
Problems experienced by emergency dispatch when trying to find addresses in the county, as well as receiving a grant, initiated the effort to create the county master address list.  Ewert said staff is 80 percent complete with the creation of address points and 40 percent complete with creating new address data.  The department has been using tax records and parcel data to create the list.
Ewert hopes to have the list complete by the end of the month, but said it will be impossible without help from the city and direction from the county.  
Ewert said there are “significant” amounts of address problems within city limits.
Councilman Don Mathews said the emergency services board, comprised of city council members, county council members, and emergency services staff, should address the issues.
“We are at a crossroads here.  Push is going to come to shove,” Mathews said.  “We need this project completed.  We can’t endanger the lives of our citizens by dispatching emergency vehicles to the wrong place anymore.”
Councilman Robert Kilmer agreed.  “This decision is to protect people,” he said.  “We have to put people’s lives first.”
Ewert also suggested the county adopt an addressing ordinance in the future.