Local News

Through rain and snow, sure, but try getting mail in some new neighborhoods

Posted March 14, 2014 7:11 p.m. EDT

— Residents of some new subdivisions are finding empty mailboxes day after day because the U.S. Postal Service has determined that it isn't going to always provide door-to-door service in order to save money.

Rosely Chellamkott moved into the Holland Farm neighborhood, off Green Level Church Road and Morrisville Parkway in west Cary, two weeks ago. Despite checking her mailbox daily, she has received no mail.

Like most of her neighbors, she had no idea that she would have to pick up mail at a nearby post office for the foreseeable future because the Postal Service has no plans to deliver in Holland Farm unless the developer installs a centralized cluster mailbox kiosk.

"It's a real problem because every day we need to go to the post office to get it," Chellamkott said.

"I want it at my driveway in my mailbox," said Mani Govind, who moved to the neighborhood Thursday. "We have kids, school, work. I can’t afford time every day to go to the post office.”

Historically, developers selected how mail would be delivered and then coordinated that with the Postal Service. But the agency took the decision out of developers' hands two years ago, determining the most efficient type of delivery for new neighborhoods.

Developers were never notified of the change, said Tim Minton, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County.

Cary planning officials said they learned of the new rules only last fall. By then, they said, plans for Holland Farm and other subdivisions had been approved and didn't include any room for a cluster mailbox and associated parking.

"All we're saying is, let's start the rules when everyone knows the rules," Minton said.

Postal Service spokeswoman Monica Coachman said the agency needs to cut costs, noting delivery to a cluster mailbox costs about $160 per mailbox each year, compared with $353 per mailbox for door-to-door delivery and $224 per mailbox for curbside delivery.

"We apologize for any inconvenience being caused to our customers as a result of developers’ unfamiliarity with the change," Coachman said in an email to WRAL News. "Developers are encouraged to coordinate with the Postal Service early in the process to ensure adequate time for proper planning and notification to potential buyers."

Cary planners said they would meet with Postal Service representatives next week to work through some issues. In the meantime, officials said, prospective home buyers looking at new subdivisions may want to ask about mail delivery.

"These become bird houses," Minton said of the mailboxes outside Holland Farm homes. "I'm not sure what else we can use them for."