SNOW HILL – County officials opted not to approve a street dedication program this week.
A motion to approve an honorary street dedication policy failed with just one vote of support at this week’s meeting of the Worcester County Commissioners. Those in opposition voiced a variety of concerns about the proposal.
“I think it puts us in a precarious position,” Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said.
On Tuesday, staff presented the commissioners with an honorary street dedication program for consideration. Kelly Henry, technical services division manager, told the commissioners she’d received a few requests over the years from people who wanted to rename county roads in honor of a community member. Currently, in order to do that everyone living on the street would have to change their address to the new street approved by the commissioners. As an alternative, Henry said she’d reviewed an honorary street naming policy in place in Wicomico County and was proposing something similar here. Instead of changing the legal name of the road, the policy would allow residents to request a secondary honorary sign that could be placed above the county road sign.
Henry said since 2014, she’d received three requests for road renamings.
“We don’t have a policy, so we haven’t been able to process these requests,” said Jennifer Keener, director of development review and permitting.
She said the policy as proposed would allow for street names similar to Corporal Glenn Hilliard Way in Pittsville.
“Main Street is still Main Street but it’s also Corporal Hilliard Way,” she said.
When asked if the applicant would be responsible for the cost of the honorary signage, staff said the petitioner would be responsible for all costs of mounting, installation and replacement.
Mitrecic said he did not think the commissioners should be deciding whose name should be on which road.
“I think it opens up a can of worms,” he said. “We found out with plaques in the past how it puts us in the middle of stuff … Something like this is very emotional for the people requesting it.”
Commissioner Chip Bertino asked how the county would decide what names were appropriate.
“Is there a way to determine… whether or not the request rises to a level we should do something like this?” he said. “We could be inundated. Are there levels? Are there tiers?”
Keener said applicants would describe the reasoning behind their request in the honorary street dedication application.
“That’s very subjective,” Bertino said.
The motion to approve the new program failed with six votes of opposition and a lone vote of support from Commissioner Diana Purnell.