Addresses change

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 5:22 PM

In an effort to provide a uniform addressing system and bolster efficient emergency services, Montezuma County officials are examining residential addresses throughout the county.

The effort, referred to as the county addressing project, began in November 2008 as a result of county Resolution 22-2008, which charged the county planning department with the responsibility of assigning new addresses in unincorporated areas of the county. The project was clarified in June 2009 with the passage of Resolution 6-2009, the adoption of Montezuma County Road naming and Address System Standards.

“We recognized the need for a uniform system for quite a long time because previously all the county addressing was done through the assessor’s office,” said Doug Roth, county geographical information systems manager. “The current system was created from scratch back in the ’70s. It was created as a grid system.”

The grid system relies on square-mile sections in which addresses are laid out 1,000 units per linear mile. For example, one mile of a road may have addresses beginning at 10000 and ending at 10999.

“Logically it is a very simple system and in a perfect world where we have sections of road that run in cardinal directions it is very easy to apply,” Roth said. “But in areas where roads have started running in strange directions or around canyons or when they loop back on themselves, applying the grid system is much more difficult to do.”

The result has been an addressing system that doesn’t make much sense on the ground, according to Roth and Jim Burton, county road count and address technician.

“What we’ve found in the 25 years since this was first implemented is different staff members would apply addresses at times in different manners and there were inconsistencies in how addressing was applied,” Roth said.

Planning department Director Susan Carver said the major benefit of the new system, which relies on GIS mapping information and on-site inspections, is a uniform system that anyone can apply.

“We’ve created a methodology to do the addressing in a consistent manner,” Carver said. “That same method will be applied as technology improves. It creates a template to reproduce.”

The project started by verifying that county road maps provide an accurate picture of actual roads.

“Everything was built from the ground up,” Burton said. “Doug and I got together, and we verified that the road map was correct and that roads that exist are showing on the map and roads that are there are named correctly. A lot of work was done to bring that up to date.”

To complete the addressing project, Burton and Roth examine each section of road in the county to ensure addresses are sequential and in the correct range.

Aerial photos, GIS information and on-site inspections are all part of the process.

“When we are looking at a section of road we are making sure the address range is correct and then you go about analyzing each individual address,” Burton said. “First you look at the map and the aerial, you look at where the driveways are then I go along with an address locator to determine what the new address will be at that location.”

Address changes result nearly 75 percent of the time, Burton said.

Once county officials are satisfied with the addressing changes in a stretch of road, the new addresses are put into a database and notices are sent to property owners.

In an effort to make the transition simpler for property owners, the county will send address change notices to agencies such as 911 dispatch, the Cortez Fire Protection District, the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Montezuma County Assessor’s Office, Clerk and Recorder’s Office, Empire Electric Association, Qwest, Farmer’s Telephone, Century Telephone, UPS and FedEx.

For the past year, Burton has worked specifically on 21 miles of County Road G through McElmo Canyon. During the process, 272 addresses were changed or verified.

Burton said it is nearly impossible to gauge how many addresses in the county still need to be examined. Initially, the county hoped the project would be completed sometime this year, but as the work progressed, it became clear that was an unrealistic goal.

“There is no timeline now,” Burton said. “We will keep working until it is done.”

Once all county addresses have been verified, address signs will be provided by the county.

County officials say many residents are pleased with the addressing system, despite the inconvenience involved in an address change.

“As far as feedback, we’ve had a lot more positive than negative,” Carver said. “People come in, even business owners, and thank us for doing the project because they want their addresses to be accurate and they understand the need for emergency services.”

Some county residents are not pleased with the system.

“I have two problems with the project,” said McElmo Canyon resident Larry Tradlener, who has received address change notices for two properties. “No. 1, I am being forced to change my address. No. 2, they have chosen an arbitrary method and they are making change not in compliance with their own resolutions.”

Tradlener said the county’s new system does not mesh with the original grid system and is outside the public lands survey system, which he maintains is a more efficient system. The county’s reliance on technology and computer systems, such as GIS, results in a system that doesn’t make sense, he said.

“They do not have anyone that understands the way the system should be run,” Tradlener said. “They came in with a GIS and there is this hocus pocus about, ‘Well, this is what the computer says, so this is the way it should be.’ I just want someone to explain why they are doing what they are doing, and they can’t. The reason they’ve given could be accomplished without this kind of disruption.”

Burton said county commissioners have indicated their approval of the new system.

“Every time we’ve approached them, commissioners have said we are doing what we need to do,” Burton said.

Tradlener said he will not change his address until he is provided proper rationale.

“It’s civil disobedience on my part,” Tradlener said. “I will not change my address until they give me a reason to do it.”

For more information, visit or contact Carver at 565-2801.

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