More cluster mailboxes, less individual mailboxes in new neighborhoods

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HARVEST, Ala. — According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Huntsville is on track to be the most populous city in the state.

There are plenty of new developments popping up in the area, which come with some roadblocks like where to put mailboxes.

The Copper Creek neighborhood in Harvest is still under construction. Some of the homes in the neighborhood have mailboxes out front, others don’t.

This is because there are a bunch of cluster mailboxes at the front of the development.

“It’s a policy that the post office put into place several years ago to move toward kind of cluster boxes and common mail facilities,” said Joey Ceci, Breland Companies Spokesperson.

According to the United States Postal Service, cluster mailboxes are a centralized and preferred way to get packages and letters to people.

USPS wrote in a statement that developers, builders, and local post managers are part of the planning process to determine where to put the mailbox clusters. But Breland said that in the Copper Creek development they were unaware there was a cluster mailbox going in. That’s why some homes have mailboxes and others don’t.

“Copper Creek, it was something that really wasn’t told to us until basically the end, after homes were built, that they were going to require these cluster mailboxes so again, there was no ability to plan for that,” Ceci explained.

So the homes that have mailboxes in front of their house aren’t getting mail put in them; instead, they go to the front with everyone else’s mail.

John Mark Morris owns a home in the neighborhood. He hadn’t yet had a mailbox installed before being informed it was no longer an option. Morris says he just assumed that building a house and having a mailbox in front of it came hand-in-hand.

But that’s not the case in various new developments in the area.

“Going and grabbing your mail from your mailbox is kind of a nostalgic homeowner feeling, and it’s kind of unfortunate that we won’t be able to get that, but I think it’s more so inconvenient having to stop at the front of the neighborhood,” said Morris.

Breland said they’d like more consistency in communication and guidance from USPS.

“If it’s something that the post office could reach out and engage with the local builders about here, or the builders even nationally; make sure that everyone understands what the process is where they’re going to require these boxes,” Ceci added.

News 19 reached out to USPS to ask questions about cluster mailboxes and the requirements that come with them.

Below is the full statement USPS provided:

“The Postal Service is proud to continue its vital role in today’s changing mail environment. We are directed by statute to provide reliable and efficient service. One way we do that is through use of centralized delivery, utilizing Cluster Box Units (CBU) as the preferred method of delivery, with rare exception, for all new residential and commercial developments. CBUs have the advantage of being “package friendly,” in that they are designed to accommodate the majority of packages delivered through the U.S. mail.

The U.S. Postal Service’s approval of central delivery as the preferred mode of delivery with rare exception has been successfully implemented nationwide in new residential and commercial developments since 2012.  Developers and builders request mode of delivery approval early in the planning stage of new developments and work with local postal managers in determining the most efficient location for installation of the new central delivery equipment (CBUs). Postal customers have historically been responsible for the costs associated with the installation and maintenance of mail boxes, with developers and builders routinely purchasing and installing the new CBU equipment on land that they have dedicated within the development or new area of development. The Postal Service’s District Office reviews the developer’s/builder’s recommendation for the placement of the CBUs and provides the final site approval. The customers’ new central delivery mail service will begin at the earliest possible date.

Please note, the location, size and dedicated use of any municipal or county easement is within the control of the local governing authority. The Postal Service does not seek to intervene in any easement use determinations.

In addition, the Postal Service does not unilaterally convert long established curbside or door delivery to central delivery without the consent of the potentially impacted homeowners. Please note that new areas of residential development are often built over several years. In instances where the first few new homes within the development area were built and approved for curbside delivery, the Postal Service may request that customers agree to transition to the surrounding central delivery to improve delivery efficiency and security of the customers’ mail. 

Postal managers continue to regularly meet with developers, builders and local government officials to address all pending issues, while successfully meeting new home buyers’ expectations of expediting the start of their new central delivery service.

Postal customers in new residential developments nationwide have consistently endorsed central delivery as a safe, secure and efficient way to receive their mail delivery.

The Postal Service remains committed to providing world class postal service to the American public.”

-Debra J. Fetterly, USPS Spokesperson, Alabama District

USPS says residential areas often take years to build, and some of the first homes in this neighborhood had their own curbside mailboxes but those homeowners have transitioned to the central location.

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