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Pick an address in Minot. Chances are Aleesha Erickson knows where it is, and in many cases, there’s a good chance she had a hand in creating that address.
Erickson, the City’s GIS coordinator, has worked for the City for 16 years; she’s been in the Engineering Department since 2011. As GIS coordinator, she’s tasked with creating interactive, informative maps for the public and internal City uses, as well as determining correct addresses for properties in the city and surrounding two-mile jurisdiction.
And that’s not a simple process, despite what some people might think.
“Sometimes people will call me and expect to have an address while they’re still on the phone with me. It doesn’t happen that fast because it’s important we have everything correct for emergency services,” Erickson said. “On our end, it can be pretty fast, but it could take two weeks for a new address to register in the 911 system or into the Postal Service’s system.”
There are many steps to take before a piece of property is assigned a street address.
“First, if it’s a new development, I’ll look at our road grid system to verify that street and avenue names are correct. Once that is verified, I check to see if there were any addresses previously assigned to those locations,” Erickson said.
Next, Erickson will determine whether the addresses should be odd or even numbers. There’s a system for that, too.
“For reference, if you stand with your back to the intersection of Central Avenue and Main Street, anything on the left side of the roadway is odd numbers, anything on the right side of the roadway is even numbers,” she explained. “A lot of people think we use Broadway and Burdick Expressway as our dividing lines, but that’s not the case.”
Then Erickson will decide on a specific address for a plot of land. For instance, a block of properties between Second Street and Third Street will have addresses numbering between 200 and 299.
“We use those guidelines to determine the exact house number,” she said. “We usually try to go in increments of four so we leave one potential address in between and sometimes more if the property is fairly large. You always have to plan for the future, which wasn’t always done in the past and we are finding instances now where that has created problems. Also, if the other side of the street is already developed, obviously the numbers on the other side should be numbered accordingly with those.”
Another deciding factor on an address is where a property’s driveway is located, not necessarily which road the structure faces.
“We see this in some houses that sit on a corner lot,” Erickson said. “If the home faces the street but the driveway exits onto the avenue, the address will be on the avenue. The address is determined by the driveway location, not the house.”
After all those steps and considerations, there are still more guidelines to take into account.
If streets or avenues have words instead of numbers – think Landmark Circle NW, or Woodside Drive SE – there are guidelines to which letters can be used in those names. Each quadrant of the city is limited to certain letters.
A through F is reserved for southwest Minot. Northwest Minot gets letters G through L. Northeast Minot gets M through R, and southeast gets S through Z.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work, Erickson said. In early years, those rules, which are now part of city ordinance, didn’t exist so there are some exceptions to the rule, especially in NW Minot.
“I can’t speak for those who used to do the addressing, but I know that as long as it’s been my job, that rule has been followed,” she said.
The rule makes it easier for emergency personnel to determine which part of town a certain address is located in, Erickson said. And in an emergency, every second counts.
Erickson has witnessed Minot’s physical growth over the past decade, working to keep up with the demand for new addresses and new GIS maps.
“For a while, the new properties were coming in like crazy, and getting them added to the map and attaching all the proper information for them kept us really busy,” she said. “It’s slowly starting to pick up again.”