Mailbox rules

Cluster mailboxes are required to be built in new communities with single-family homes, or at new businesses, according to the United States Postal Service.

At least one developer of single-family homes in Wilson County does not like the United States Postal Service newly enforced rules about personal mailboxes at new residences or businesses.

The change to the policy, made in April 2018, said that all new residences, businesses and business parks must have a centralized mailbox, similar to what is seen at many apartment complexes. 

According to a booklet written by the USPS for developers and builders, “centralized delivery is our preferred method of mail delivery. Centralized delivery equipment improves delivery efficiency and provides space for large mail items, including packages, which is a great benefit for customer. “

It continues, stating that, “freestanding, pedestal-style outdoor centralized mailboxes are called cluster box units or CBUs.  CBUs are ‘package friendly’ because they are designed to accommodate the majority of packages delivered through the U.S. Mail.  CBUs also include parcel lockers, which provide separate, locked storage for many packages. 

Local developer Philip Craighead said he’s not a fan of cluster mailboxes for single-family homes.

“I’m a little old-school,” he said. “I feel like each home should have a mailbox by the street. I think that cluster mailboxes are OK for apartments and townhomes, but for (single-family) homes, people get used to mailboxes by the street. Plus, it’s more efficient and better for the elderly people. If there are cluster mailboxes, they will have to get into their car and drive to the other side of the subdivision to get their mail, as opposed to walking to the curb.”

Craighead, who is developing homes connecting Tucker Trice Boulevard to Highway 231 said, “I don’t know how many (developers) are being affected, and I’m not sure that I am going to be affected. I also don’t know the minimum number of homes that are affected by the ruling.”

He said that the homes he builds “have nice mailboxes. They’re metal, not plastic and have some wrought-iron on them.”

Craighead added that by the time a shelter is built, and parking completed, “we’re going to have a lot more expense. Add that to the other fees and houses are unaffordable for those just starting out.”

Other types of centralized mailbox equipment are also available, according to the booklet.  Builders and developers or property owners, such as HOAs and community managers, are responsible for the purchase, installation, maintenance, repair and replacement of mailbox equipment.  

“Residents with a medical or some other special need can request a waiver on cluster box usage (hardship delivery),” Ray Render, Deputy District Director for U.S. Congressman John Rose wrote after conversations with USPS employees. He spoke to the Wilson County Planning Commissioners on Sept. 16. “This hardship delivery will allow the postal worker to bring the mail directly to the doorstep.”

When planning a community, business or business park, the developer or builder will need to plan for labeling the residence number on the house and curbside.

“Cluster boxes are keyed therefore much more secure than standard mailbox,” Render continued. “(That means that) gifts, medications, cash in cards and (other items which come through the mail) are now secure.” 

Render noted that the use of the centralized mailbox is estimated to save the USPS approximately $30 million per year, due to reduced labor and fuel for the postal service.

Amazon deliveries will still be made at the home, as that is a separate contract with the USPS, according to Render’s statement.  If a parcel storage box is available however the post office will use that storage box to place Amazon and other larger packages.

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