SALISBURY – A new policy is expected to establish criteria and an application process for honorary street signs.
Last week, the Wicomico County Council reviewed a new policy and application for honorary street signs.
Officials first initiated a discussion on the benefits of a street naming policy last July, after it was realized the county had no guidelines for dedicating a county road to an individual.
“The council does get requests from time to time to dedicate a road to a certain individual,” Council President John Cannon said last year. “We recognize we really don’t have a policy and we really hate to do it ad hoc because as soon as you make one appointment then you will probably be inundated with two or three more.”
To that end, council staff began reviewing policies from other jurisdictions and working on a document that outlines the purpose of and process for honorary street signage.
According to a draft of the policy presented to the council last week, community members requesting an honorary street sign must submit a street designation application and supporting documentation to county officials for consideration. The honoree must be deceased and must meet historical, cultural, geographical or public service criteria outlined in the policy.
“We have put together a template and the council is going to move forward with this as far as establishing some guidelines,” Cannon said.
While he supported the policy, Councilman Joe Holloway questioned how honorary street signs would affect public safety. While the honorary sign would be placed above the actual road sign and would not change the official name of the road, he said individuals calling 911 could inadvertently give dispatchers the wrong street name.
“It might not be a problem,” he said, “but I would like to see some input from our 911 operation on this before it’s changed.”
Members of the council also questioned the public input process.
“Does this require an informal public meeting or any sort of input session?” Councilman Josh Hastings asked.
Holloway echoed his concerns.
“Is there a process here for someone who doesn’t want that on their street?” he said. “Not everyone is going to agree.”
Council Administrator Laura Hurley said the policy could be amended to require a public hearing.
“The way it is written now, it is not a requirement …,” she said. “We will have to add that to the policy.”
Council members last week said they supported the idea of a street naming policy.
“I think it’s good to have a policy on that,” Councilman Marc Kilmer said.
Councilman Larry Dodd agreed.
“I like the application,” he said. “I think it’s appropriate.”
Officials said a resolution accepting the policy will be brought before the county council for approval in an upcoming meeting.
“We’re working on the nuts and bolts right now, but if the council finds everything here is acceptable this would have to go forward as a resolution,” Cannon said.
“It would have to go back to the county council in its final form for your approval,” she said.