Supervisors cannot arbitrarily change the name of roads

Published 11:10 am Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The names of Blackhead Signpost Road and Hanging Tree Road were once again at the forefront of Monday evening’s Southampton County Board of Supervisors meeting. This time, however, the supervisors made it clear to those in attendance that they cannot change the name of the road — regardless of how they personally feel about the subject — until proper procedures are followed.

“We can’t do anything about it unless you go through the proper procedures so that we can take some action,” supervisor Glenn H. Updike said. “[Talking about it in open session every month] is beating a wet horse to death and getting nowhere.”

As previously reported in The Tidewater News, and repeated by county administrator Michael W. Johnson, residents seeking to change the name of the road must comply with the process for consideration specifically prescribed in Section 14-125 of the Southampton County Code. In order for it to be reviewed by the board, a $500 filing fee must be paid and a petition with the signatures of a majority of the landowners along the street in question.

“Any request to change the name of existing streets shall be submitted via petition containing signatures of the majority of landowners of said street along with a review fee of $500 paid to the agent who will forward the request to the planning commission for public hearing and review,” Johnson said. “The board of supervisors shall hold a public hearing after receiving a recommendation from the planning commission on the request.”

This process is the same for any rezoning or renaming matters, as the county’s subdivision agent, Beth Lewis, would serve as the aformentioned liaison between the applicant and planning commission. If the planning commission were to recommend a name change, the board of supervisors would then advertise and conduct a second public hearing before taking action on the request.

“This is a minimum requirement before it can go before the board,” Vice Chairman Ronald M. West said. “We cannot arbitrarily change the name of a road.”

Supervisor Barry T. Porter added, “We can’t just say ‘Okay, we agree with you. We want to change the name of the road.’ We can talk about it for five years, we can’t do anything about it until you file the petition.”