The residents of SW Hillcreek Road are breathing a sigh of relief after the conclusion of the address change issue during the Butler County Commission meeting on Tuesday morning. Prior to the meeting, the commission requested the number of similar circumstances regarding situations requiring address changes of this nature.
“We send out an average of 13 letters a year,” said Butler County GIS Director Pam Dunham. “For one reason or another there is some type of change needed with each letter. Fourteen of those instances were at even-odd address issues. With an average of 13 letters sent out a year, it is not very often that we have to take this type of action. Some months we have more issues than others.”
Commissioner Peggy Palmer began questioning the occurrence of how often these situations occur.
“We’ve got these three people,” said Palmer. “Is there anybody else you’re having come forth that doesn’t like this that wants to appeal it?”
“We don’t have anybody else that is appealing the changes,” answered Dunham. “We do not have anybody that we have worked with that we have not changed. If the commission does decide today to keep the addresses as they are, we (the committee) will move forward; if the commission decides to make the changes to the addresses, we will also move forward. As a committee our job is to look at standards and be consistant. Our job is not to create exceptions. We have considered what we could run into in the future. Today these things are not an issue, but they could be an issue in the future.”
Commissioner Ed Myers then began to speak on another solution for the issue.
“Is it possible to put two addresses on one house?” he asked. “Sometimes this happens in cities particularly if there’s a garage apartment. If this would be an undue hardship on the current residents, would it be possible to simply add the new address so it would be consistant with the EMS and 911 reasons? They would still be able to get their mail and legal correspondence at the address they’ve invested in and emergency responders would have no trouble finding the house.”
“If you use your mailing address on an everyday basis, when you call 911 there would be some concern,” said Dunham. “Particularly in an emergency, it is common to give an address that is familiar. There can be two different addresses: a mailing and a property address, but coming from the department that maintains that system, it would not be my preference. It will forever cause confusion to every person that would have to look at the addressing system for that property.”
Page 2 of 3 - “I can see why we’re trying to maintain the structure,” commented Myers. “But like almost anything that human beings are involved in, consistency is almost impossible. It should be the highest priority, but I’m wondering if it is possible.”
In a previous meeting, the possibility of adding a stipulation on the deed to change the addresses when the homes are sold was brought before the commission for consideration.
“I think I’m still in favor of the deed restriction,” said Commissioner Jeff Masterson.
“We did actually check with title companies,” said County Administrator Will Johnson. “They are not in favor of doing that at all because of the delays that it would cause. It would be a big mess.”
Dunham went on to further explain there is always a delay in the initial contract on a house in order to get everything done. It’s a manual thing the title company would have to do. They would have to discover it and disclose it, then another process would begin. It opens up a larger room of error on an actual deed restriction.
“The addressing committee would be more in favor of visibly displaying the addresses if the commission chooses to stay with the exception,” said Dunham. “We did discuss this at length, but because we have an even and odd on the same side of the street, it makes it hard to deal with internally.”
“You have two options,” explained Johnson. “One, change the addresses or two, make the exception and have the owners sign a liability waiver and make stipulations regarding the display of their addresses.”
“I know the folks that live there have also done a lot of their homework,” said Palmer. “GPS is becoming a big thing now. We can accept an exemption without causing a big problem. It is getting more sophisticated every day.”
Following the commissioner’s discussions, the residents were given the opportunity to address the commission.
“I called 911 in July and he came to my house no problem,” said resident Pat Herian. “I’ve talked to a firefighter. You’re never going to have perfection with this. I’ve talked with all the neighbors, we have all agreed to place these large address numbers.”
Commissioner Mike Wheeler, despite the willingness to place large house numbers, was concerned about the willingness to give exceptions to the known guidelines.
“I like the option of giving them a longer time period to update their addresses,” he said. “I would hate to be a 911 responder whether it be the sheriff or an ambulance though. It’s a poor idea to make an exception here. How many more exceptions are we going to make?”
Page 3 of 3 - “In the world we live in, if the mistake is made the county could be at liability and have that liability associated with it especially if it is known that the addresses are wrong,” said Johnson. “I’d hate to say it, but I’ve seen it too many times. The chances of something happening are slim, but that one in a million occurrence could cost us $10 million. That’s the unfortunate thing.”
Palmer then moved to recommend the allowance of an exception of the proposed physical house address changes as long as the residents display visible numbers on the addresses and sign an affidavit of liability. The motion was carried 4-1 with Wheeler opposing.
The commission also:
• conducted a work session regarding the county’s workman’s compensation report.
• approved the tabled request to purchase five user licenses for the clinic management software Nightengale Notes by Champ Software, Inc. in the amount of $47,462 and to enter a three-year subscription agreement.
• approved the allowance of Hayden Tower Services to install the cable ladder on the college tower.
• authorized payment of the annual contractual obligation to KDOT for Motorola software upgrades in the amount of $86,800. The commission voted 3-2 with Woydziak and Palmer opposing on the grounds the obligation was not disclosed during contract negotiations.
• approved the right-of-way dedications for additional road right-of-way required for several road and bridge construction projects in Butler County.
• conducted a public hearing related to the proposed updated solid waste management plan and adopted the 2013 Solid Waste Management Plan of Butler County.
• approved a resolution establishing an equipment reserve fund for the Elections Department to be used towards the maintenance and replacement of elections equipment.
Kari Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.