City official says time to place focus on house numbers

The issue of proper residential identifiers and a plan to enforce the applicable city ordinance is back before the Miami City Council.

Tim Wilson, interim city manager, said Monday that the absence of house numbers on many of Miami's residences continues to be a problem for emergency responders.

The concern first came before the council in October of 2006 when Chris Randolph, nuisance abatement officer for the City of Miami, announced the mailing of letters to more than 40 residents who owned multiple properties.

At that time, Randolph estimatd that between 800 and 1,000 properties in Miami lacked a posted address.

I think that we just scratched the surface in late 2006 early 2007, Wilson said. The task became overwhelming for one person to handle. Now we have officers out developing the list of homes and businesses without numbering. I appreciate the cooperative of the police department.

In the aftermath of July's record-setting flood event and two severe ice storms in 2007, city officials say the majority of homes in Miami are without proper identifiers.

Wilson is now proposing that the city again send notices to owners of non-compliant structures.

If the property owner ignores the notice, the next action would be to take the matter to city court. If deemed necessary, the court may levy a fine of $65 and assess $25 for court costs, Wilson said.

The last thing we want is to get into anyone's pocket by issuing fines over house numbering, Wilson said. But, when we are talking about a matter of life and death, it is time to do something about it.

Wilson said the city will continue to address the problem until all homes have the proper numbering. City staff has discussed a plan for assistance for elderly residents who are not physically able to apply the numbers.

Proper marking of property is essential to quick emergency response, Randolph said when he addressed the council 18 months ago. He also said the markers assist delivery personnel, post office employees and health care workers with identifying property.

Proper identification is important for a number of reasons, Randolph said. But, our priority is to assist in emergency response.

Regulations for proper identification are as follows:

Identifications should be visible and legible from the front of the property.

Numbers and letters should be Arabic and numbers should not be written out.

Letters and numbers should be at least 4 inches tall and no less than one-half inch wide.

Address should contrast with the background surface.

Questions regarding proper placement of property identification numbers and requests for assistance may be directed to the city's code enforcement office at 541-2247.

Ottawa County 911 also reports signage shortage

Ottawa County's 911 officials say the concern for sufficient property identification stretches beyond municipal boundaries.

There is also a serious lack of 911 address identifiers in the county's rural areas, officials say.

Emergency responders, already racing the clock as they travel into remote areas, rely on the proper placement of 911 emergency signs.

County officials say the signs - available for purchase from the 911 office - are critical in getting timely help to rural residents.

Medical assistance, fire protection and law enforcement providors say they rely on the vibrant, reflective signs that guide them when visibility is limited.

For information about purchasing a regulation 911 sign, contact Ottawa County 911 Coordinator Pat Dale at 541-2319.