New ordinance changes addressing, road naming in country

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Beaufort County is now under a new road-naming and addressing ordinance.

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners addressed the ordinance Monday night during its regular board meeting, and board members voted 7-0 to adopt the new standards for all addresses in the unincorporated parts of the county.

The county’s last ordinance was adopted in 1993, but new rules were needed from a safety perspective, according to county Manager Brian Alligood.

“The focus of it was emergency services and how we can find people,” Alligood said. “We’re just trying to do right by folks.”

The main issue, Alligood said, was first responders’ ability to find addresses in the event of an emergency.

For displayed address numbers, the new ordinance calls for: addresses a minimum of four inches in height, which is consistent with the State Building Code; must be made of reflective material; and must be located at the front entrance of a building and visible from the road off of which it is named. If a building cannot be seen from the road, numbers must be posted at the end of the driveway. Those who don’t abide by new address requirements can be fined $50 if the property is not brought into compliance within 90 days after being notified at least twice.

On the road-naming side, a third building — whether residential, commercial, industrial or institutional — erected along alongside a driveway or easement means the driveway or easement will move into the category of a private road and must be named. No new public or private roads will be named without the review and recommendation of the Mid-East Commission’s planner and the Board of Commissioners, in order to ensure uniformity, as well as prevent road name replications, similar road names and road names that could inspire people to steal signs as souvenirs.

While there are several instances of existing roads in the county that are named the same or sound the same, the new ordinance is geared to provide clarity for first responders.

“You run into issues between the municipalities — we try to coordinate — everybody has a Main Street, but 911 usually takes care of that,” Alligood said.

Alligood said the county has made structural changes to prevent signs from being stolen; naming them less theft-worthy names is a preventative and, perhaps, lifesaving measure.

“We do have an issue in Beaufort County with people stealing signs. We have tried to fix that structurally — people have to work really, really, hard to steal those signs, but they’re still doing it,” Alligood said. “It’s not just costing us money, but if our first responders miss a sign, it could be a life or death situation. Folks think it’s cute — ‘I‘ve got a sign’ — but it could mean the difference between life or death. Folks have to remember that it’s bigger than that.”

While the new ordinance also helps eliminate confusion for residents, visitors and postal delivery workers, its primary purpose is for public safety and to facilitate emergency services.

“People may go, ‘This is too much regulation,’ but all this is, is us trying to be able to find people in times of need,” Alligood said. “You need to be able to get to people in emergencies.”