Department of Planning & Zoning
Background of Addressing in Washington County
In 1989 Washington County began the process of readdressing, moving away from the rural route system of addressing used by the United States Postal Service to a more consistent grid system used across the country. The State of Maryland mandated that all counties switch to a grid system with the purpose of enhancing emergency services response. Counties were required to have unique physical addresses for habitable structures. Washington County decided to tackle this readdressing by postal district. Each postal district underwent a survey via door to door address checks to determine the location and address of all structures in the County. New addresses were then assigned using a grid system with numbers increasing from West to East and from South to North with odds on the right and evens on the left as numbers increase. In some cases roads were named where 3 or more structures used a single driveway or in cases where duplicated road names occurred. In 1990 thru 1991 letters were sent explaining the changes and included the new address for each structure. The postal service provided (1) year of service to the old address before mail would be returned to the sender.
In 1995, the Planning and Zoning office began translating the paper tax map copies with address points on them to Geographic Information System (GIS) data. In 2005, the county obtained more accurate aerial imagery and an updated version of the address points. It was clear from the combination of aerial imagery and address points that some addresses were incorrect due to inaccuracies in previous mapping or changes over time. The county underwent another field verification of addresses from 2006-2010 which identified addresses which were out of sequence, in the wrong block range (based on the grid system applied to assigned addresses), odd on the even side of the road, and more than 3 structures on a private drive, etc. During subdivision or permit review, these errors are reported to the property owner to attempt to revise the addresses as needed.
Since 2011, the Planning and Zoning Department has been working on an Addressing Ordinance which will take current policies and organize them in a formal document so that the public, consultants and staff have a clear policy on the creation and modification ofaddresses. The future of addressing in Washington County will include the maintenance of addresses for Emergency Services, the initiation of discussion with property owners to fix gross addressing errors such as numbers in the wrong block, odds on the even side of the street and private driveways needing named. Eventually, the county also hopes to work with property owners to make sure their numbers are posted on their structure to ensure timely emergency response.
Important Notes About Address Changes
- If an address change is completed by our office the following agencies are informed on your behalf.
*All other address changes are the responsibility of the property owner.
- Emergency Services
- Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation
- United States Postal Service
- Property owners are not required to immediately record a corrected deed using the new address. An address is a description of your property, but NOT a legal description. Should you sell the property in the future or have any new transactions where an address is requested, please use the new address.
- It is recommended that you NOT change your address on everything immediately after receiving an address change letter. The address will be effective with the agencies our office notifies should you wish to use it, however, it is easier to change billing and other address items gradually. You have up to (1) year to change your address over before you postal carrier will return mail with the old address to the sender.
Helpful Links to Assist in Address Changes
Contact Us…If you have questions about an address change in progress, issues with a current address, issues with a completed address change or questions regarding an original address change please contact our office at (240) 313-2439 or email us.
Our office will be happy to assist you over the phone if you have questions regarding addresses, however, we also provide a web map product. This web map is administered through the Washington County GIS Office. If you have issues with the map functioning please contact their office at (240) 313-2278. If you have questions regarding the data in the map please call our office at (240) 313-2439.
Obtaining an Address
- Addresses in Washington County are done at the time of permit application for a building. Only habitable buildings are addressed.
- Washington County does NOT address vacant land.
- Addresses and their numbers are based off of our grid system and where your driveway or access intersects a named road.
- If you need an address assigned for Emergency Services Purposes, please contact our office.
- Our office does provide address verifications to property owners should they be required.
- If you would like a copy of an address change letter previously provided to you, please contact our office.
Contact Us…Please contact our office at (240) 313-2439 or email us. When contacting our office be sure to include your current address and any parcel information (map, block and parcel number or tax account id) you may have.
Information for Road Naming
Sample Property Owners Letter for Road Naming
During the road naming process we require those using the access to agree on the road name. The letter should be signed by all property owners indicating their agreement to the change and also the new name of the road.
Prohibited Word List
Due to overabundance some words are no longer accepted in part or as a whole road name. Any of these words utilized in a submission of road names will cause the proposed road name to be immediately rejected.
In order to assist in the road naming process Washington County has provided a list of proposed and existing road names already in use or reserved for future use. Direct duplication is not permitted.
Tips for Road Naming
- Utilize the Prohibited Word List and Road List to avoid using road names which are not allowed or already in use.
- Do not include the suffix for a proposed road name when making a submittal for road name review. Washington County Planning and Zoning will assign suffixes.
- Washington County requires the road names to be unique and not sound like other road names in the county, therefore, these names are reviewed by both our office for duplication and Emergency Services for sound a like qualities. If you know you require road names for a project, please submit them in advance and our office will work to get them reviewed prior to any submittals to save time.
- Remember the rule, If you have 3 structures OR building lots using a private drive it does not need named. If a 4th structure or building lot is proposed then the drive will need to be named at that time. If you know you’re going to be doing 4 or more structures but its in phases please let us know so we can avoid naming after structures are already in use.
- When submitting names we recommend at least (3) proposed names for EACH road being named.
- When submitting names please DO NOT make only the suffixes unique, the spelling unique or use the names of living persons. Examples of unacceptable road name submissions might be Smith Lane, Smith Drive, Smith Ridge, Smyth, Smith, Cmith and James Smith Drive.
If you have questions regarding road names, would like to submit road names or have questions about the process please contact our office at (240) 313-2439 or email us.