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Bow to hold hearing tonight on street name, number transition

The Bow selectmen will hold a public hearing tonight on the first phase of an address restructuring plan that they and other town officials have honed over the past few years.

The change is meant to reduce confusion for emergency responders by dealing with a range of issues, including duplicate or similar sounding street names, misleading prefixes or suffixes and nonsequential or duplicate numbers.

Such issues “risk potential for service delay as precious time may be taken up clarifying a response location rather than sending vehicles on the road,” according to information on the town’s website.

Selectmen Chairman Jack Crisp described the changes as “significant” but necessary.

“To those people who live on a street that the name or number or both are going to change, there is going to be a period of adjustment,” he said. “But if you want to be sure that the police or fire (personnel) get to you in an emergency, then this is just what it takes.”

Though 26 roads have been identified as requiring some sort of change, the first phase would include just five: Allbee Lane, Old Hill Road, Robinson Road (and Robinson Road Extension), North Bow Dunbarton Road and One Stack Drive.

For those streets, the committee noted the following issues:

∎ Allbee Lane sounds like Allen and Albin roads.

∎ Robinson Road and Robinson Road Extension sound similar.

∎ One Stack Drive has a number in the name, which can be confusing (20 One Stack Drive sounds like “21 Stack Drive,” for example).

∎ Old Hill Road sounds like Old Woodhill, Woodhill and Woodhill Hooksett roads.

∎ North Bow Dunbarton Road has a direction in it, which can be confusing, and sounds like Dunbarton Center Road.

Tonight’s hearing will deal only with the renumbering issue; approval of the name changes, which does not require a public hearing, has already been made, according to Selectwoman Jill Hadaway. Hadaway said the changes include: Allbee Lane will become Noyes Lane; Robinson Road and Robinson Road Extension will merge as Robinson Road; One Stack Drive will become Stack Drive; Old Hill Road will become Carriage Road; and North Bow Dunbarton Road will become Foote Road. The new names are based on suggestions from residents.

All of the streets except One Stack Drive would be renumbered.

The changes (including new numbers, if approved) will take effect July 1. The post office will hold two addresses – the new and the old – for people impacted on that date. Residents will have to update other services such as banks, utilities, subscription accounts and the Division of Motor Vehicles – as well as the physical numbers on their mailboxes and homes – on their own.

Bryan Westover, the town’s community development assistant, said he will present at the hearing a checklist of necessary notifications. He also noted that the changes in phase one would impact about 111 homes and businesses.

The board has been exploring the changes since 2010, after some residents expressed concern that certain street names and numbering sequences were not compliant with the Department of Safety, Bureau of Emergency Communications’ guidelines, Hadaway said.

The board created a committee to highlight which streets were problematic. The committee, composed of Westover and four others, including representatives from the fire and police departments, met publicly with state officials for six months, making recommendations to the board in 2011.

The issues it found varied. For instance, some dead-end roads are numbered in descending order – lower digits at the end – which is the reverse of state standards. In some cases homeowners have relocated their driveways to the opposite side of a street corner, effectively changing their identifying street, without notifying the town, Crisp said. In others they have put up address numbers that differ from the ones under which the town has them listed.

The idiosyncrasies may not mislead experienced locals, but, because Bow is a member of a wider emergency compact, responding officials may not always be from or as familiar with the area.

“Depending on what’s going on, people might be responding from a different community and have to be able to rely on the signs and the numbers,” Crisp said.

Crisp also said the board chose to instate the restructuring in phases because it will allow residents more opportunity to provide input.

“We’re trying to do small bites because we want people in the communities to come forward and express concerns or issues,” he said. “You can’t really do that if you do it all at once.”

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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