Street names applied to a new Harlem subdivision have brought to light a challenge of rapid development.
The city, which has subdivisions under development for the first time since the 1980s, encountered a problem recently when city officials approved a developer's proposed street names for the new Ansley Place subdivision on U.S. 221. County and U.S. Postal Service officials said the choice of names - Ansley Place, Ansley Way and Ansley Lane - might be too similar to road names already in place in the city and in the Martinez-Evans area, said Harlem planning director Dee Tapley.
An Ansley Drive runs a few blocks away from the subdivision in Harlem, and an Ansley Way already exists near Gibbs Elementary School in Evans.
Columbia County as a whole has some duplicated road names itself. There's a Gibbs Road in Evans and a Gibbs Road South off Wrightsboro Road in Grovetown.
Several thoroughfares in the Martinez-Evans area sport the names Deerwood or Pine Ridge.
Typically, when developers submit road names in the unincorporated areas the county forwards them to the postal service for approval, said county Geographic Information Systems Technician Ernestine Phelps.
That process was new to Harlem planners.
"Unfortunately with Ansley Place we weren't aware of the procedure; we're so new with the procedures," Tapley said.
Ansley Place also was complicated by assigned block numbers, which county officials said were confusing.
By and large, Phelps said county and postal officials try to keep similar sounding names to the same subdivision.
"A lot of times we get roads that are similar sounding and people will assume they are in the same subdivision," she said. To prevent confusion, Phelps said, the Postal Service typically denies a street name if it is too similar to a name already used in a different subdivision.
Redundant names can pose a challenge not only to mail delivery, but also to motorists, first responders and utilities companies. Even major mapping Web sites such as MapQuest and Google Maps base their charts on the county's GIS mapping system, Phelps said.
The sheriff's office, Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue and Gold Cross EMS use the GIS system to dispatch first responders in the county. Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said he was not aware of any problems with road names confusing deputies or dispatchers.
Harlem, being a small municipality with its own police and fire service, has less to worry about in terms of confusing its first responders, Phelps said.
"For the most part, probably 95 percent of the names are approved, unless there is the same name or a similar sounding" name in use, she said.
Tapley said that because the names for Ansley Place had already passed through city planning and zoning and the city council, they will remain the same.
"Fortunately we were able to learn from that experience," Tapley said, adding that the developer of another new subdivision recently had a street name request turned down for similar reasons.
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