City of Bainbridge considering new rules for renaming streets

Published 8:45 pm Friday, January 24, 2014

The Bainbridge City Council posted a new ordinance on first reading Tuesday to put in place a systematic procedure for renaming streets and other city property.
Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby researched and put together the ordinance that cites several key elements leading up to the renaming of a street. This ordinance places the financial burden of the renaming on the applicant and residents and a percentage of residents must consent to the decision to change.
“There are really three key elements to this ordinance in street renaming,” Roy Oliver, assistant city manager said Tuesday. “The first is that 60 percent of the residents on the property or on the street must consent to the change.”
The city council voted in January to rename two streets with no ordinance or policy in place outlining the procedure. The council voted to rename Barlow Street in West Bainbridge to L.L. Ward Street after a Bainbridge resident requested the change before the council. Following the passage of that change, city councilman Luther Conyers made a motion to rename the portion of Planter Street to Martin Luther King Street, to make the entire street the same name.
The new ordinance would also require that entire streets are renamed — not just partial streets.
“The second main element of the ordinance would be that burden of paying for the change is on the applicant,” Oliver said. “This would be an application process and the applicant has to go before the community development directors.”
Oliver said it would also be required under the new ordinance to have a public hearing regarding the change before the city council can bring the decision to a vote.
Hobby said he created the ordinance using ordinances he saw in others similar areas.
“Those seem to be fairly typical outlines for an ordinance in a lot of different places,” Hobby said. “That language seemed to be fairly consistent.”
He said he wanted to include language about partial street renaming because that is what led to Planter Street and Martin Luther King Street being split and now having to be renamed.
As for determining the percentage of residents that had to consent to the change, Hobby said he found several cities that required 80 percent of residents to agree, but he said 60 percent was more than a majority and a reasonable amount.
“Requiring the applicant to pay will just make people be thoughtful about (street renaming,)” Hobby said. “If you have to spend your own money you will probably be more careful about what you are asking for and it can be quite expensive for the city to replace signs. Most cities seemed to require that.”
The new renaming ordinance will likely be voted on at the next Bainbridge City Council meeting in February following a public hearing for residents to express their concerns and questions with the ordinance.