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How do new streets get named?

Ken Little

In unincorporated areas of New Hanover County where new developments are going up, developers are asked to submit new street names to the Planning Department. The street names have to be included on a recorded map of the subdivision for new developments, says Steven Scruggs, a county GIS technician.

When names are submitted, they are checked against an existing database of street names to make sure there are no duplications, names that rhyme with other streets or similar-sounding names. Other difficult-to-pronounce names are excluded because they might hinder a 911 response.

“They submit nine or 10 names and if three or four are good, then we say put them on the map when the subdivision is recorded. Some instrument has to be recorded making a name legal,” Scruggs says.

The county’s Technical Review Committee also must approve the name.

There are about 3,800 named roads in New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington. Streets with tree names are nearly exhausted, Scruggs says, so some developers research other nautical-themed items like shells to come up with eye-catching names.

“Occasionally we go around the county and find a long dirt road off the beaten path that does not have a name and we ask the residents to come up with a name,” Scruggs says. In those instances, county commissioners must hold a public hearing before a name is approved.

Some people prefer to name streets after ancestors or relatives, he says.

“To not duplicate or rhyme, you have got to get pretty creative these days,” Scruggs says.

In the city of Wilmington, new streets get approved in one of two ways, says public information officer Malissa Talbert.

“Via the traditional development review process by new construction or by citizen request for requesting names for something like alleys, et cetra,” Talbert says. “Street names submitted as part of the development review process or by citizen request are checked to make sure there are no existing duplicates or similar-sounding street names in the city, and are in general appropriate.”

When the city approves the plan or request by a citizen for a street name, it must be submitted to the New Hanover County Register of Deeds for official recording.

For more information, contact Scruggs at 798-7223 or the county Register of Deeds office at 798-4530.

User-contributed question by:
Joellyn Cochran

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One Response to “ How do new streets get named?”

  1. On September 7, 2009 at 8:31 pm Laura Crawford wrote:

    I would like to know the background history about the street named–“Parmele”. This is my father’s last name. Where do I need to go to get more information if you cannot help me?

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