Coweta County Moves Forward with Centralized Mailbox Ordinance

Coweta County recently added an amendment to their County Zoning and Development Ordinance in response to the United States Postal Service enforcing central modes of delivery for new, non-single family housing development. The amendment provides for “Cluster Mailboxes in situations where the USPS determines that individual mail delivery will not be available to a new development,” and outlines requirements for installation, maintenance, and construction of the mailboxes and the surrounding area.

Robert Tolleson, Division Director of Planning & Development for Coweta County, said “the Planning Staff believes that Coweta County should be proactive by adopting an ordinance to address the following issues related to centralized delivery:
1) To ensure that centralized delivery units are in place prior to occupancy by the first homeowner;
2) That the cluster box stations are located off the county’s right-of-way to prevent county liability and maintenance responsibilities;
3) To ensure access to the cluster box station is safe;
4) To ensure each home displays an address for emergency services when on-site lot mailboxes are not allowed;
5) To ensure the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements are met; and
6) That any required structures are properly reviewed and permitted.”

The Council for Quality Growth is currently compiling a model ordinance for the Metro Region of this issue, we will be seeking input from the development community and local government as we construct this model ordinance.

As the Council has previously reported, the USPS revised existing regulations to give them greater autonomy in determining modes of delivery in July 2013. In an attempt to “maintain a safe, reliable and efficient national Postal Service,” USPS has decided to enforce central modes of delivery on a case-by-case basis, such as cluster box units (CBU’S) or kiosks, for new development sites; and yet, in spite of this, some projects that are already under construction, or that have already been approved, have been notified to install centralized mailboxes. The USPS is requiring that these units be located at the entrance of the subdivision or business complex.

While the USPS regulation for central delivery is a national requirement, local postmasters have the authority to work with developers and enforce these regulations. With the increase in development activity, some postmasters in the state have started to enforce the provision. Because of this, Planning and Development departments are already working with the DOT to create desired standards for their localities. Some of the standards they have been discussing are acceptable locations for centralized mailboxes (for instance, not in the right-of-way), and design criteria. These departments have also shown a desire to create a “grandfathering” rule to the provision for new, under review, or under construction developments, so that they will not be required to install central delivery.

The USPS rule creates a major issue for developers around the region, especially for those who have already begun construction prior to enforcement of the regulations. Coweta County is the first in the region to adopt an ordinance addressing new USPS regulations. Since this has potential to be a standard problem region-wide, the Council is working with our metro counties to create a unified ordinance in order to address the issue. If you are interested in working with us, or if projects in your area have been affected by this provision, please contact James Touchton at 770-813-3373 or jt@councilforqualitygrowth.

To view the Coweta County amendment, click HERE.