Street sign offends homeowners in Columbia

Coon Hunt Court causes controversy

COLUMBIA, Md. - After 41 years in the Village of Oakland Mills in Columbia, Gerry Emery doesn't see what all the fuss is about.

"They did a lot of raccoon hunting here and they had coon dogs, so I think that's why that one got its name," said Emery.

But when the name is Coon Hunt Court, the historical interpretation takes on sinister tones for Ambrose Lane, Jr. who lives on the cul-de-sac.

"Anyone that's been called a coon or anyone where you say coon hunting actually denoted hunting for black people... that's going to be offensive," said Lane.

Land and his five neighbors must all agree on changing the court's name before the county will consider it, and he says there's a precedent for the county picking up the bill.

"I know that they had made another name change of a word that was 'Satan', and the residents got together and the county paid for it," said Lane.

But another longtime resident, Dianne Khan, says that case was different.

"It may be PC for the people who live there, but it's just ridiculous, and the Satin Wood, Satan Wood?  It was supposed to be Satin Wood and they did it by error, and the people over there were upset because they were conservatively religious and didn't like it," said Khan.

Located in the Thunder Hill community of Oakland Mills, residents say raccoons once saturated the Thunder Hill Farm and hunting them was a popular sport.

The animals are still prevalent here today.

"It's ridiculous.  They bought houses with the court named Coon Hunt," said Khan, "It has a long history here, and I've lived here 26 years.  The history, again, is raccoons, and we had one in the back the other day just wandering along the deck.  It's silly."

Lane says he didn't like the court's name when he bought here, but his wife liked the house so he's hoping he can just change the words on the sign that have haunted him since he moved in.

"If they are not African-American and have not been exposed to the type of language that has been used to denigrate African-Americans, how could they know that it's an offensive word?  So I don't blame them, but they need to understand to African-Americans, it is offensive."

Howard County Councilman Calvin Ball has picked up the residents' cause and he's circulating petitions to try to get the sign changed.

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