LAKE ANN — When 94-year-old Norm Falete heard that his Almira Township address might change because of a numbers glitch, he was not happy.
He would have had to change his contact information at the federal, state and local levels, he said, as well as with everyone who sends him Christmas cards, utility bills and even junk mail at his Birch View Trail address.
“I don’t like it,” Falete said. “It’s the ramifications of all the different things that would have to be changed.”
The proposed plan to change 11 home addresses on Birch View Trail in Gray’s Riverdale Subdivision No. 2 because the numbers are out of sequence caused an uproar, said Thomas Longanbach, Benzie County equalization director.
“Nobody wants to update their personal data, so they’re all claiming a hardship,” Longanbach said.
But Benzie County commissioners agreed with the homeowners at their meeting this week. After looking at letters from Falete and other homeowners detailing how the change would affect them, commissioners opted for another solution.
The 11 homes can keep their existing addresses, but will be assigned a new, second address. When a home is sold or its title transferred the address will update to the new one. In the meantime, when a call is made to 911 both addresses will come up — the old and the new.
“Nobody has to change their address, nobody has to move,” said Commissioner Bob Roelofs.
Linda Kassab has lived in her Birch View Trail home for 22 years and said changing her address would have been a major headache.
“Every single thing that we get comes to this address,” Kassab said, adding that the numbers are not currently out of sequence. “I appreciate the fact that (commissioners) listened to us. I think they did the right thing.”
The proposed changes were prompted by the owner of a vacant lot who wants to build a house, Longanbach said. When the owner applied for the address it was found the empty lot was skipped over and never assigned a number. Several lots were never assigned an address, he said.
“The new home would have been out of sequence,” Longanbach said. “According to the addressing ordinance the address numbers are supposed to run in sequence. Those 11 properties, the way they’re set up, they don’t work.”
Gary and Sharon Gordon have lived in the subdivision for 15 years and were not happy about the possibility of changing their passports, their voter IDs or their driver’s licenses. Sharon said the addresses come up on Google maps and there has never been a problem with first responders finding any of the homes.
The Gordons are happy the change won’t happen.
“The fact that those empty lots need an address — we should not be a part of that problem,” Sharon Gordon said. “They should have thought about that when they platted it out.”
She also points out that the new address they were given is their neighbor’s current address, which would have been a nightmare for both of them.
The current addresses were all issued 15 to 20 years before the Benzie County Addressing Ordinance was adopted in 1999, Longanbach said. The document gives the equalization department the authority to assign addresses, though changing existing addresses or those already in use is discouraged, the ordinance states.
Odd numbers are supposed to be on the east side of the road and evens on the west, according to the ordinance, and most are. But the subdivision is circular and it’s difficult to determine east and west, Roelofs said.
Assigning the empty lots random addresses also won’t work, he said.
“It would be like putting 13 in the middle of 2 and 3,” Roelofs said.
All of the empty lots have now been assigned numbers, Longanbach said.
“As people build there are enough numbers to go all the way around the circle using the new number system,” he said, though for now they may stick out like a sore thumb.
Falete has lived in his home for 30 years.
“You would think that in all that time somebody might catch a mistake they made,” Falete said. “And now they want to change it.”