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Address changes given initial okay in Dade City

The address of every home and business in the city would be changed under an ordinance tentatively approved Tuesday by the City Commission.

The ordinance would change house numbers, but not street names, to help emergency workers find homes more quickly. However, Dade City commissioners have heard much opposition to the proposed changes, and Tuesday's vote on the plan was a close 3-2.

They could take a final vote on the issue at their meeting Oct. 27.

Pasco County officials have worked several years to change street names and house numbers to increase the effectiveness of the 911 emergency response system, said Robert Cabot, the city's public safety director.

However, Commissioner Scott Black said the changeover would damage the city's heritage and identity, and he thinks the 911 system can be implemented without changing addresses.

"There is a way we can be part of the program and not have to change the numbers," he said. "That (was) done, about seven years ago, in Brooksville. And they have had no adverse effects at all."

Black did not know exactly how Brooksville's system works, but said the city manager told him that 911 workers cross-reference the listed house address with an identification number that shows a more specific location.

"They more or less have the best of both worlds," Black said.

Brooksville City Manager Jim Cummings could not be reached Wednesday to explain the system.

Pasco County cannot force Dade City to adapt to its system. The city approved an ordinance in 1988 that disallows any entity to change city addresses without the city's approval.

If Dade City rejects the new ordinance, it apparently would be the only municipality in Pasco County to not accommodate the 911 system, Black said.

"We'd be the holdout," he said. "But . . . other municipalities could have taken advantage of the (Brooksville) system."

Cabot said the plan to change house numbers is a compromise from county government's original intention to change any duplicated street names in the county. That plan was abandoned, he said.

The public safety office recommended to the commission that it approve the number change, Cabot said.

"We can live with the change," he said. "But only the numbers would be changed, not the street names.

"We have had some problem with (duplicate) numbers. If you have someone at (a house number on) East Meridian and one at (the same number on) West Meridian, that can be a problem. Some times we have to send out units to each side when a person doesn't know which one they're at."

The intended plan would allow the Postal Service to recognize dual addresses for a year to lessen confusion. But Cabot said dual addresses also can hinder emergency workers.

Black doubts that residents will support the ordinance. Some people spoke in opposition at Tuesday's meeting; none spoke in favor. Black has received several phone calls since, all opposed.

"I think if it went through, there would be a lot of upset people," Black said.

_ Staff writer Sally Hicks contributed to this report.