Bethesda Family Gets a New Address Without Moving

By Miranda S. Spivack
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It was painful enough for the Beyersdorfer family to learn that Montgomery County had approved a builder's plans to tear down their neighbor's house and replace it with two larger ones. But then, on May 29, came a terse form letter with startling news:

Effective immediately, the address for the suburban split-level the Beyersdorfers have occupied for 43 years is no longer 6211 Wedgewood Rd. That address now belongs to one of the two unbuilt houses next door. The Beyersdorfer house has been bumped to 6213.

It was, the letter said, simply a matter of public safety. The numbering system is designed to help emergency vehicle drivers easily find addresses, the letter said, and a sequential system is the best way to do that.

Or, as a county planning official told Anne Beyersdorfer one recent day as she questioned the decision, "sometimes you just don't have any options." And no, the county doesn't allow 6209 1/2 or 6209A and 6209B.

"That's just rude," Beyersdorfer said. "How can there be no options?"

The letter does acknowledge that an address change could be something of a hassle.

"We apologize for any inconveniences these necessary changes may present; however the safety of our citizens must take precedence," the form letter advised.

"The [Planning] Commission is responsible for ensuring that all newly assigned addresses in the County present a clear precise flow for public safety which is our number one priority."

But it's also about those new checks Beyersdorfer just ordered. And the names in her address book. Will the charities she favors still find her? If the mail carrier switches to a new route after the postal service's 12-month grace period expires, will the mail be returned to sender?

And it's about something a little less tangible, something the letter doesn't really discuss.

"It doesn't take account of the personal nature of these things," Beyersdorfer said.

The letter offers no recourse, but with a little sleuthing, Beyersdorfer discovered that there is something of an appeal process, or maybe a chance to get a little help with the expenses she will incur as she notifies hundreds of people that her address is changing.

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