- The Washington Times - Friday, November 24, 2000

For home seekers who are beginning to research the communities where they would like to live, the Internet provides some pretty nifty fringe sites to help map out their next move emphasis on the mapping.
Say you like a particular neighborhood, but you want to know how far it is from your parents' house or your old home.
Instead of hopping in the car to make the drive and watch your odometer, simply click into a few of these sites to figure out the distance, what is nearby and even the wealth of your neighbors.
Almost everyone knows about MapQuest (www.mapquest.com). If you don't, get there and bookmark it. It is good for directions across town or cross-country. Plug in where you are sitting, then type in where you want to go, and the site provides you with a map, point-by-point directions or both.
The fringe maps I'm talking about give you information that otherwise is hard to obtain. These maps provide exciting information about your targeted community, such as radon gas permeation, toxic-waste handlers and points of emissions releases into the air.
OK, maybe it's not so exciting, but it's definitely helpful when you are looking at a new community.
Glide over to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (www.hud.gov/emaps) for a look at its latest release: HUD E-Maps. HUD and the Environmental Protection Agency have combined to provide maps showing:
Location, type and performance of HUD-funded activities in every neighborhood across the country.
Select EPA information on brownfields, hazardous wastes, air pollution and waste-water discharges.
HUD E-Maps spring from Americans' strong conviction that people have the right to know about the quality of the environment where they live, work, play and raise their families, HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo says. With a click of the mouse, consumers can gain access to the information needed to make environmentally informed choices.
To go straight to the maps without all the explanation, visit the clickable U.S. map (https://hudemaps.esri.com), which gets you to your county in a matter of seconds. Along the right side of the map page is a bar of icons indicating the various parts of the map. For instance, a lime-green house signifies public housing, while small windowed blocks show multifamily housing, and smokestack buildings show buildings that are showering out emissions.
If you want to know how well you are doing compared to the Joneses, take a look at the Demographic and Economic Profile maps from the Census Bureau (www.census.gov/datamap/www/).
Here, you can find out not only the estimated population of your area, but also the average income and poverty levels (just in case you were wondering why your neighbor is moonlighting). In addition, the site includes records on housing information from the 1990 Census, 1999 population estimates, county business patterns and general county profiles.
The following map may cause some concern for homeowners, but it also demonstrates the importance of conducting radon gas tests in your new home. This is the U.S. Geological Survey's regional map for the Washington area (https://sedwww.cr.usgs.gov:8080/radon/rncounty.html).
The map is color-coded in pink, yellow and blue and shows the areas with high, medium and low levels of radon potential in rocks and soils. You will see here why some buyers insist on testing a house before buying it to see if radon is a problem under the foundation.
One of the most unusual map sites I found is from the Green Map System (www.greenmap.com).
Green Maps use icons to chart the sites of environmental significance in urban places around the world. Each map is unique and created in the map's local area.
Generally, the maps chart the green space, population densities and historic development of cities around the world. Included among the U.S. cities are Monterey, Calif.; Boulder, Colo.; Milwaukee; New York; and Portland, Ore.
Maps aren't just for directions anymore, and the Internet enables us to chart more than just miles from point A to point B.
M. Anthony Carr has covered the real estate industry for 11 years. Please send your inquiries and comments to 8411 Arlington Blvd., Fairfax, Va. 22033; or e-mail [email protected]

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