No home delivery any more for new developments; centralized boxes required

By NIKKI ROWELL,

Several Madison County residents are not receiving their mail regularly following a federal mandate passed down from the U.S. Postal Service.

The mandate requires all new developments, both residential and commercial, to be outfitted with a centralized mail system.

This means, any new developments still relying on mail delivery directly to homes will have problems because that is not in compliance with the U.S. Postal Service requirements.

“I don’t see a way around it,” board attorney Katie Bryant Snell said. “It’s coming down slowly, but eventually, you’re going to see people stop getting their mail.”

People in some neighborhoods are not getting their mail, according to District 1 supervisor Sheila Jones.

“I already have people not getting their mail,” Jones said.

The U.S. Postal Service published its national delivery planning standards, which is a guide for builders and developers, in December 2017. The new guide says centralized delivery, through the use of Cluster Box Units (CBUs), is the U.S. Postal Service’s preferred delivery method and box type.

The Madison County board of supervisors also received a letter with this information from the Postal Service.

“We prepared a letter to present our best arguments for why we did not need to be included in this federal mandate,” said Snell. “And they sent us a letter back that basically said, ‘Sorry, here’s your mandate.’ So, that’s where we are with that.”

In the response letter, Elizabeth Johnson, the district manager for the U.S. Postal Service, addressed the board’s concerns.

“The United States Postal Service is proud to continue its vital role in today’s changing mail environment,” Johnson said. “That role includes the responsibility for establishing the method or mode of delivery, the type of mailbox and location of the mailbox for each street delivery address.”

The board’s concerns centered on cost issues that may arise from the implementation of central delivery in new residential and commercial developments.

“It would be hard for me to embrace this,” District 3 supervisor Gerald Steen said. “For me to vote in favor of it, it would be hard for me to do that with the understanding that those developers and home builders are not in favor.”

However, Johnson said that the costs associated with planning for central delivery are within the standard costs developers and builders incur on each new project.

Snell said the Postal Service is working to make this the standard across the board.

“Eventually, they’re going to press harder to start enforcing this mandate,” she said.

Johnson said the advantage of using CBUs is the “package-friendly” aspect. CBUs are designed to accommodate the majority of packages delivered through the U.S. mail.

As online shopping has become prevalent, package volume has also increased. 

According to Johnson, residential delivery mailboxes in use today are designed on the basis of specifications that are now outdated, as they do not accommodate this rise in package volume.

This means packages often cannot fit into residential mail receptacles and require them to be redelivered, retrieved at a post office or left on adjacent doorsteps.

“Centralized delivery minimizes these risks,” Johnson wrote. “The Postal Service is directed by statute to provide reliable and efficient service. Centralized delivery fulfills our responsibility to safe, efficient delivery for both the customer and the Postal Service as we move into the 21st Century.”

She also included that postal customers with serious disabilities would have the option to apply to their local postmaster for an alternative mode of delivery.

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