[Talk-us] Differences with USA admin_level tagging

Greg Troxel gdt at lexort.com
Sun Jul 9 16:31:43 UTC 2017

Kevin Kenny <kevin.b.kenny+osm at gmail.com> writes:

> The default municipality elsewhere is a town. This is what you get
> when you don't incorporate. Towns do not cross county lines. They are
> similar to townships in other states. Every resident in New York State
> resides in a town, a city, or on a Native American reservation.
> Incorporated communities include cities and villages. None of these
> cross county lines, except for the sui generis City of New York, and
> the City of Geneva, which is primarily in Ontario County but has
> annexed some land in the adjoining Seneca County.
> Cities are independent from the towns that spatially contain them.
> They operate entirely independently of the town, and generally have
> their own charters (constitutions). (Exception: The city of Sherrill
> has surrendered most of its independence and is treated as a village
> in the Town of Vernon.)
> Villages have more limited home rule. A handful are chartered, while
> most are governed by a uniform statewide Village Law. About 85% of
> them fall within a single town, while the remaining 15% are divided
> among two or more towns, which may or may not be in the same county.
> In all cases, the residents of a village are residents both of the
> village and of some town, and owe taxes to both.
> Below towns are also encountered hamlets. These have no independent
> existence or home rule at all. Their borders in some towns are fluid,
> with a cluster of houses or neighborhood being identified by a name.
> In other towns, the hamlets are coincident with planning districts or
> have special zoning, and are signed at their borders. Certainly, the
> towns that promulgate zoning regulations, parking regulations,
> planning policies, and so on by named hamlet deserve to have their
> hamlets' borders marked on the map, even if the hamlets have no home
> rule.

No objections to your comments on New York; I don't know the rules at
all.  I will just point out that this is totally different from
Massachusetts, where cities are not within towns, and 99% villages and
hamlets are place names not administrative divisions.  (A few larger
cities do have named subregions that have some but not much political
significance.  I don't think any of them have separate laws or separate

A key point is that OSM has words Town and City and these have
OSM-defined meanings, and each state may well use those same words to
mean different things, and we have to  be careful to separate local
language and OSM language.

For instance, OSM seems to use city, town, village, and hamlet as
members of a settlment hierarchy of populated places with varying
populations.  That's fine as a general notion in human geography, but I
see it as totally separate from admin tagging.  I don't think we are
having that confusion, but wanted to point this out in case.
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