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Changing addresses generate complaints

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By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

One, two, three, five - whoops, something is apparently wrong here.

That's what Planing Manager Steve Ladd and others in the Bonney Lake Planning Department realized when they tried to assign an address to a new home at 6810 185th Avenue East.

The address problems are located at 185 Avenue East on the west end of Debra Jane Lake where many of the houses date back to the mid-1970s.

A total of 27 residences and two vacant lots are involved in the change.

"It's a pretty common problem in cities," Ladd said. "Addresses should follow a pattern, but there was a period in that area where it wasn't being done right. Usually it remains in place until it is noticed. These addresses are three blocks off."

Changing addresses may seem easy enough, but when Glen Wilson and his wife Gerri received a letter from the city dated Dec. 15 informing them their address had been changed from 6517 to 6605 185th Avenue East, it was a shock.

The letter was addressed to the Wilsons, but the salutation was, "Dear Ms. Oklatir," their neighbor.

"It's a big fiasco," Wilson said. "Someone bought a lot that needed an address and now they want to change my address. This house was built in 1973 and it has had the same address. If they had come to us and said the fire department can't find you, I'm getting old enough I would have said OK. But this is not the way to do this."

According to Wilson, a 13-year resident of Bonney Lake, the 11 lots on his block would change from all having address beginning with 65, to address ranging from 65, 66, 67 and 68.

Ladd stated the timing and tone of the letters sent to residents was not the best. As a result of complaints from residents, Associate Planner Elizabeth Chamberlain sent a second letter Dec. 22 informing residents the city would wait until after the New Year to decide on changes.

Ladd proposed to the City Council a Jan. 25 public hearing be scheduled concerning the address change.

At the hearing, council members will take public testimony and consider an ordinance for the process of changing addresses, which is absent from the Bonney Lake Municipal Code.

According to Ladd, cities have the authority to assign addresses, but an ordinance should be written that spells out the process and the city's authority.

"At some point (incorrect addresses) becomes a visible problem," Ladd said. "Emergency personnel can't find places, utility workers and delivery drivers have trouble."

Ladd noted address changes are considered and made with the assistance to East Pierce Fire and Rescue.

If the changes move forward, Ladd said the Planning Department will likely give residents three to six months to change their addresses.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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