Belen to change 1,600 addresses in city to comply with state statute

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Belen city officials are gearing up to change more than 1,600 addresses of residents and businesses to comply with state statute.

"It's not just one area in the city. It's scattered all over the city," said Steve Tomita, the city planning and economic development director at the city council's March 18 meeting.

Although the process of how these address changes will occur or when it will happen hasn't been outlined. Tomita said those affected will be notified by the city and have questions addressed at public meetings.

The changes are in response to a New Mexico statute stating a "local governing body in an enhanced 911 service area shall provide GIS addressing and digital mapping data to the public safety answering point (dispatch) that provides the enhanced 911 service to the local government."

This statute was implemented after the state was chosen to complete a pilot program enhancing 911 service areas through consistent mapping, said Lisa Miller, zoning enforcement specialist.

Those within the state received New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration funding to purchase equipment for these enhancements, and signed agreements with DFA stating they would correct up to 96 percent of addressing, street naming and signage errors.

"We want to make you aware that this is going to be a big issue," Tomita said. "We're going to try to resolve everything as reasonable as possible, but there are probably going to be circumstances when we don't have a choice but to change an address and it's going to have an impact."

Errors include odd and even numbered homes listed on the same side of the street, duplicate addresses, addresses listed on the wrong streets and gaps in street numbers, Miller said.

One instance Miller encountered was where seven residences had the same address.

Miller said changes are much needed for emergency personnel to accurately respond to incoming calls. Emergency responders at times respond to the wrong place or don't know where they need to go due to the errors.

"In two instances in that trailer park (on Orchard Place), one trailer completely burned because (emergency responders) were thinking (the home) was farther down the road," Miller said.

"Dispatch didn't know where it was. They thought it was in the county, because they thought it was on Orchard Road."

Miller told the council she wasn't sure how the errors occurred, but some of them might have been city errors, and the others were from residents assigning themselves addresses.

Belen City Councilor David Carter called the address changes an "unbelievable burden to the people of Belen" on top of being costly for businesses.

But Miller said Belen isn't the only municipality facing this issue.

"Albuquerque had over 1,600 pages of address errors listing from here to here," she said, pointing from the top to the bottom of the page.

Accurate and quicker response times would be worth the address change headache, said Belen firefighter Chris Martinez.

"If I have to change my PNM (bill) and everything else for first responders — police and fire — to get to my wife faster, I wouldn't mind changing my bills," Martinez said.

Before implementing changes, Miller will analyze the "most reasonable adjustments" and bring those before councilors for feedback and approval.

Once the address changes are completed, Miller will notify the post office, the city's water department and the county, but it would be up to residents to notify other utilities and necessary entities.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.