Renaming Green for MLK could be complicated

Mar. 08, 2014 @ 03:00 PM

Changing the name of a city street is no simple task.
Those who want to see the city change Green Drive to Martin Luther King Boulevard could have to contend with parts of city policies and ordinances that were designed to take politics out of the renaming process.
Decision-makers would also have to consider the impact that changing a street name would have on residents and business owners along Green Drive between Interstate 74 and Interstate 85 Business Loop.
The council will hear public comments later this month on whether to request a renaming of the road to honor King. If council does, under city ordinance, it will be up to the Planning & Zoning Commission whether to grant it. 
“There are a host of variables that the commission has to look at,” said High Point Planning & Development Director Lee Burnette. “They have to look at the impact but also look at the public good, so it’s their job to weigh that and make a decision.”
Green Drive is a state-maintained road, so whatever the city decides would have to be approved by the state, Burnette said. The state typically defers to the desires of the local jurisdiction in street renamings, he added.
For Green Drive residents and businesses faced with changing their addresses if a renaming were approved, the U.S. Postal Service will usually forward mail to a new address for a period of time.
In addition, the city can delay the implementation of the new street name for up to a year to give affected residents time to prepare.
“Typically, for residential property, it’s driver’s license, credit cards, financial documents — things like that that you typically have that have your addresss on it that have to be changed,” said Burnette. “It’s the same thing for a business. The business may have websites. The business may have a catalog. ... Cost is a factor, but also time is a factor — how quickly the change goes into effect.”
When a street renaming request comes in — be it from council, a city department or two-thirds of the property owners on the street in question — the commission will call for a public hearing.
Or it may not.
The body could, under city ordinance, deny the request and not put it on the agenda, effectively stopping it in its tracks.
Burnette said the provision that allows the commission to do this was put in place several years ago to try to stop repetitive requests to rename streets.
“The idea is that, if somebody is repeatedly filing a request that the commission has denied, then why hold a hearing on it when you know you’ve already made a decision?” he said.