Police couldn't find them. Even their friends had to ask for special directions. And the mail? That could end up anywhere. Now, Fairfax County wants to give hundreds of these homeowners something to help: new addresses.
The county identified about 700 homes whose official addresses are either out of sequence or on the wrong street, making it difficult for cops, firefighters and anyone else to find them. All of those houses need new addresses, officials said, not just for convenience but for safety.
The problematic addresses are spread throughout the county, and county staff said the problems may stem from typos on development applications that were never corrected or when new roads were built. Whatever the cause, they say they're working to stop the problem before it worsens.
But some officials worry that the remedy may be worse than the existing problem.
The homeowners could easily rack up thousands of dollars in expenses just to change their addresses on everything from deeds and mortgages to credit cards and Netflix memberships. It's not fair, officials said, because the residents did nothing wrong. The troublesome addresses were likely in place when they bought their homes.
"Isn't there some way to create a county database?" Supervisor Linda Smyth, D-Providence, asked county employees who'd made the recommendation. "There are a lot of dominoes here. There's no way everybody's going to be on board with this."
But Fairfax County police Lt. Darren Day said a change is "absolutely essential." He said there have been numerous instances in which an officer has been dispatched to a home but was unable to find it because of a faulty address.
"My biggest fear is if an officer is dispatched to a burglary in progress or a violent domestic violence situation and he has to spend an extra three to four minutes finding the address," Day said. "What could happen?"
The county's proposal would give the affected homeowners either a new house number or a totally new street name to bring them into compliance. Those affected by the change would be allowed to appeal the ruling.
In addition to homes, some businesses, including Weber's Pet Supermarket in Herndon, would be given new addresses.
Store manager Jared Morotti said a new address would allow the business -- located on Quincy Adams Drive but with an address from the perpendicular John Milton Drive -- to direct customers whose GPS units now can't find the shop.