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County planning codifies standards for naming roads

Jun 7, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The Fremont County Planning Department has issued a draft document outlining rules for addresses and road names in unincorporated parts of the county.

"We have policies we function under but we never formally adopted those policies," department director Ray Price said last month. "We're making what we already do official."

Lawsuit

Price said the threat of a lawsuit prompted his department to codify their standards. About one year ago, he said, the planning department tried to assign new addresses to properties that were incorrectly labeled in the Lost Wells Butte Subdivision northwest of Riverton.

"One of the individuals balked and kind of challenged us on what we were doing," he said.

Legal counsel advised the department to make its rules official so the county is more prepared to address such situations in the future, Price said.

Safety

Mikki Barnes, a geographic information systems technician with the planning department, said the project also will standardize addresses for emergency officials responding to calls throughout the county. In some places, Barnes said, two sets of addresses exist for one property, causing confusion for law enforcement, firefighters and ambulance services.

"It's a health and safety issue," Price agreed.

Barnes explained that the Fremont County Assessor's Office maintains one set of addresses that differs somewhat from that of the planning department's records. Barnes said her department uses street names that are assigned when the roadways are established, but the assessor's office often adopts commonly used titled for area roads. For example, Barnes said planning department records refer to a street called Lost Wells Circle in the Lost Wells Butte Subdivision. People commonly refer to the street as Rabbit Road, however, and that is how the name appears on many county maps and in emergency services records.

Through the new regulations, Barnes said emergency responders would utilize the planning department's addresses alone.

Rules

The document sets out standards for naming new county roads and setting addresses for properties on them. It also establishes policies for renaming roads and giving new addresses in cases of violations of the regulations.

The drafted regulations spell out what road names are allowed. For instance, the rules state two roads should not have the same name, and directional names such as "North" are not permitted.

If a road name is determined to be improper, planning department staff would come up with five alternatives and mail the list to addressees along the roadway. Property owners would have fourteen days to write back with their choice of names via mail, facsimile or email.

The planning department would adopt the winning nominee, notify addressees and emergency services and ask the Fremont County Department of Transportation to install a new road sign if necessary.

Standards for addressing are also laid out in the draft document. One provision states street numbers should not include fractions, letters or hyphens. If the planning department decides an address is incorrect, employees would assign a new number and notify the property owner by mail or in person and tell emergency services. The addressee would be responsible for informing anyone else of the change.

No big change

If adopted, the regulations would guide the planning department in new developments and revising old ones, but officials say the rules do not represent a change in policy.

Planning department staff said the new rules, if adopted, would not prompt them to seek more new names or addresses, either. The department regularly pursues name changes according to officials, who said the new document would only guide staff as they modify addresses.

According to data, the planning department has given a new address to an average of 11 properties per year for the last seven years.

"We're not going to go back and make changes (to roads and addresses) based on this regulation," Barnes said. "It's not meant to go back and fix 30 years of roads inconsistencies."

A public hearing for the regulations is set for 10 a.m. at the July 9 meeting of the Fremont County Commission. The board must to approve the document for the rules to take effect. The full text of the drafted rules is on the Planning department's website .

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