County approves petition to change name of Coon Hunt Court

Coon Hunt Court, in Columbia, could soon be renamed April Wind Circle.

The county has approved a request from the six households living there to change the name of their Columbia street to something less controversial.

Residents have called the name Coon Hunt Court "racist" and "offensive." The word "coon" has been widely used as a derogatory term for "black person" since 1837, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. In recent years, residents of Coon Hunt Court, a small cul-de-sac in the Oakland Mills neighborhood of Thunder Hill, have seen their street sign disappear many times.

Street names in Thunder Hill, where Coon Hunt Court is located, come from the titles of paintings by Andrew Wyeth. The artist had a piece called "Raccoon," which led to the nearby "Raccoon Court." There was no "Coon Hunt," though. Rather, there was a piece entitled "The Coot Hunter," named for a type of bird found in Maine.

About six months ago, a few of the residents, with the help of their County Council member, Calvin Ball, started a petition to get Coon Hunt Court changed, suggesting names of actual Wyeth paintings as possible new names. All six households signed the petition, which was required under county rules for renaming a street, and the residents agreed on three possible names to submit to the county.

Earlier this month, the county Department of Planning and Zoning accepted the petition and the residents' preferred name of April Wind Circle. Before the name change is final, it must be approved by the county Planning Board, which is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the issue Sept. 6.

If the Planning Board approves the name change, the Department of Public Works can move forward with replacing the street sign.

"The street name Coon Hunt Court is not only unsettling, but it also doesn't represent our community and the society of diversity and acceptance we live in today," Ball said in a statement.

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