2017-10-13 / Front Page

Numbering nightmare at Kings Hwy

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — People often become emotionally attached to many things about their homes, not the least of which is its street address, but residents along Kings Highway will soon have to learn to love a new number.

At their Sept. 28 meeting, Kennebunkport Selectmen agreed to take the advice of the town’s public safety committee to “review all streets in town and correct all known problems, either by re-numbering and/or potentially renaming streets to be in compliance with state of Maine e911 guidelines.”

That promises to be a process which town addressing officer James Burrows likened to “a root canal.”

“It’s not going to be fun,” he said.

In testament to that fact, Town Manager Laurie Smith said some grumbling has already been heard at town hall.

“I recently had correspondence from an individual who would be impacted who wanted a 5 percent tax-reduction because of the re-numbering and the inconvenience factor,” she said, prompting spontaneous laughter from selectmen.

But even so, selectmen said they know the potential change is no laughing matter, a fact board member Allen Daggett knows all too well. He owns Cape Porpoise Lobster Co., located at 70-R Mills Road.

“But there’s also a 70 Mills and it’s almost an everyday confusion — where does the UPS man go, where does the FedEx man go?” he said. “The other gentleman gets our mail. It’s confusing.”

According to Smith and Burrows, Kennebunkport was actually “ahead of the curve” when in 1990 it began the process of renumbering and, in some cases, renaming streets in order to comply with e911 addressing — a system approved by the state legislature just two years earlier in order to automatically convey an address to emergency responders when placing that all-important call to 9-1-1.

“There has been very little guidance from the state as this was a new concept for all municipalities,” Burrows wrote in a Sept. 21 memo to the board. “Based on information given, addressing officials moved forward with the numbering of homes in a way that seemed efficient most efficient at that time.”

It was not until 1997 when the state issued its first manual of standards and practices for addressing officers. But that guide came along three years after Kennebunkport had finished the laborious task on its own.

“We’ve worked to address issues as we’ve seen them, but there was not that flexibility in the numbering system we had in place and that’s resulted in out-of-sequence numbers, rear lot designations, or As and Bs on top of numbers,” Smith said. “Kings Highway is kind of the pinnacle of all those situations,” Smith said, noting that “condos have split houses” on some lots, and some driveways have been moved to side streets, while on other lots, “what were garages have become homes.”

Smith noted that people have an “emotional attachment” to their house numbers, but she and other town officials understand the change means more than getting used to a new numbers. “It changes their banking, it changes their deed, it changes their mortgage,” she said.

In an Oct. 9 telephone interview, Burrows said the renumbering efforts will begin on Kings Highway, affecting “about 200” homes. Deciding who gets what number will be the work of the public safety committee, which includes Fire Chief Allan Moir, Police Chief Craig Sanford and Public Works Director Michael Claus, as well as Joseph Carroll, chief of operations for Kennebunkport Emergency Management Services.

Burrows said he could not predict with the new numbering scheme would be in place, or when residents would be notified of the changes. However, he said he was hopeful of confining the updates to Kings Highway.

“Not if I can help it,” he said, when asked if any other streets would undergo the same review.

“For the majority of the streets, I see no reason for changing the method we are using based on 100-foot intervals,” he said. “It’s working. In fact, the system we have has worked for the most part for 25 years.”

However, Smith said the most imminent changes are only the tip of the renumbering iceberg.

“We’ll be starting on Kings Highway and moving out from there,” she told selectmen, noting that in more developed areas of town, house numbers might be reserved for every 25 to 50 feet of road frontage, to account for future development, so that where numbers are changed, “they won’t have to go through this again.”

“It’s going to be a big job and it’s going to impact a lot of people,” she said.

Burrows said that as addressing officer he will be “the whipping boy,” for any homeowners disgruntled by the committee’s new numbering and naming conventions. Smith will be the person to whom residents can appeal a new designation. And, of any resident is still not satisfied, selectmen will be the avenue of final appeal, Smith said.

“Oh, boy,” Daggett said.

At their Sept. 28 meeting, selectmen also discussed a variety of other issues, including buying winter sand, two new vehicles, accepting new general assistance limits and signing a consent agreement, among other business.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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