What’s in a New Street Name?

This year, the Town of Matthews (in partnership with Mecklenburg County) built one new street – Sports Parkway between Tank Town and Matthews-Mint Hill Roads.

The number of new streets created in previous years are:  2017 – 3; 2016 – 2; 2015 – 2; 2014 – 0. These include Lake Harmony Drive off of Mount Harmony Church Road, Downton Court in the Eden Hall development on Fullwood Lane, and Margaret Ridge Drive in the Stevens Grove subdivision off of Highway 51. The most recently created streets are Talbot Court, Hamlet Court, and Kings Manor Court.

Photo by Renee Garner

Photo by Renee Garner

To create a street and name, developers must propose the names; the Town has code requirements to ensure that new street names are appropriate and not duplicated. Mecklenburg County ultimately approves the name and assigns the individual street addresses.

The Planning Department reviews street names when new subdivisions/developments are in plan review. The Zoning Administrator, Mary Jo Gollnitz, considers the proposed street names for the Town, as do Matthews Planning Department, Public Works, Police Department, and Fire & EMS Department before the name is submitted to Mecklenburg County for final approval. 

According to code, proper street names must consist of one to three words, plus a street type suffix. The name must not duplicate or too closely approximate phonetically the name of any other street within the Town or county. Street names cannot include a business name, punctuation, possibly offensive words, or directional suffixes. 

The first word of a street name can only be used in two other locations within the county. The only exception to this is the use of a generic label naming a topographic feature or a color.

According to the National League of Cities, the five top street names in the country are Second, Third, First, Fourth, and Park.

According to the US Census Bureau’s US Tiger/Shapefiles, 2014, the most common street name in North Carolina is Dogwood. The top 10 street names in this state are: Dogwood (328), Park (304), Oak (261), Pine (245), Ridge (234), Cedar (225), Maple (225), Sunset (220), Church (204), and 2nd/Second (193).

The naming of streets reflects the era in which it was created – 18th- and 19th-century streets often reflected English (UK) roots or defined the purpose of that road. Later 19th-century developers named streets after trees and flowers; 20th- and 21st-century streets often mirror developers’ family names. Most recently, following the rise in technology and modernization, roads are again reflecting the generic definition of the business located on that street.