What’s In A Road Name Change? Not Public Input, Resident Says

Posted On February 03, 2014

By Mike Perleberg

(Moores Hill, Ind.) – Some Dearborn County residents are upset that they received without warning a short notice that the road they live on will have its name changed.

Dearborn County Commissioner Shane McHenry says the decision was made by Dearborn County Planning & Zoning to change the name of part of West County Line Road in the Moores Hill area. Also, some portions of Lake Dilldeer Road may also be renamed.

The change, McHenry says, may be necessary in order to avoid confusion for Dearborn County’s emergency dispatch center and first responders in locating addresses on roads which have multiple sections that do not connect. Segments of County Line Road extend from Interstate 74 in the northern reaches of the county to U.S. 50 near Dillsboro.

According to the commissioner, the planning department had taken the road name changes upon itself following complaints from the dispatch center. Those complaints centered around experiences where police or firefighters wasted valuable time responding to emergencies because they had taken the wrong road, albeit with the right name.

West County Line Road resident Tammy Wismann says residents – approximately 80 of which are affected – recently received a surprise in their mailbox. A certified letter informing them they had two weeks before the road change took effect. The public should have been included in the decision process, she claims.

“I feel, as many others do, that the first step in this process should have been to let the people know that their road name may change and to provide them with a logical reason why it needs to be changed, who is determining the changes to be made, and at what cost these changes will be to the county and to the citizens themselves,” Wismann wrote in an email.

Wismann placed a number of phone calls and sent emails to local government offices in an attempt to understand why the change, which she opposes, was being made. However, she claims she only got the run around.

“This change was not necessary, with no one owning up to making this decision and with no good logical reason why it was made. The current process failed our county government and our citizens,” she said.

McHenry said county commissioners did not learn of the road name changes until after complaints began flowing in. After meeting with Planning & Zoning, the dispatch center, and Dearborn County Highway Department, he agrees with Wismann.

“This is not how government should be run,” said McHenry. “There’s a lot that needs to be looked at in this situation.”

Typically, Dearborn County Planning & Zoning is one of the county’s best departments in providing information to the public. Many documents and meeting updates are posted on the department’s webpage and Facebook page. This situation seems to be the exception, however, turning into a headache for many residents.  Wismann says while she and others are fighting the change, others have already started updating their address information with employers, bills, banks, family, friends, and others.

“I am making a plea for the citizens who have already made address changes to be willing to change them back and save them the cost of changing their driver’s license or their Indiana State Identification cards,” she wrote.

Since writing her letter, Wismann said she has spoken with both McHenry and fellow commissioner Kevin Lynch. She said both commissioners agreed the public should have been notified prior to the decision.

Dearborn County Commissioners will try to take control of the situation at their next meeting on Tuesday, February 4. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Dearborn County Administration Building, 215B West High Street, in Lawrenceburg.