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Guest column - Rep. Doug Collins: USPS mailbox rules are unnecessary, inconvenient

Doug Collins is the U.S. Representative for Georgia's ninth congressional district, which includes parts of north Forsyth.

NORTH FORSYTH -- Even in this age of instant communication through computers and phones, there’s simply nothing like receiving a letter from a loved one. But reliable communication is not just the basis for good relationships. It’s also a foundation necessary for an economy to flourish. America’s founders knew the value of communication in commerce. That’s why the roots of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) predate independence itself, back to when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General in 1775.

Throughout our history, Americans have enjoyed the reliable service of the USPS to their homes and offices. It’s a service easy to take for granted, until it suddenly ends — which is exactly the predicament in which some of my constituents have found themselves.

As I dug into reports of Georgians having difficulty receiving their mail, the problem was traced to a 2012 USPS rule change regarding centralized mail delivery. The USPS was trying to improve its efficiency in certain new neighborhoods by requiring the installation of “cluster boxes.”

However, the agency is now trying to enforce this rule in developments already approved for personal mail delivery to each home. In some cases, the USPS is withholding mail delivery, forcing Georgians to pick up their mail at the local post office until cluster boxes are installed.

Installation of these cluster boxes would require some developers to change plans or even construct new sidewalks or roads at their own expense, and even take private property from homeowners.

The USPS should not pull the rug out from Georgians who thought they would receive their mail at home, and in some cases, had already been getting home mail delivery for some time. Senior citizens, folks with disabilities, and others with physical limitations may find regular trips to the post office — or even a cluster box — fairly challenging.

Earlier this month, I introduced the Common Sense Postal Delivery Restoration Act (H.R. 5750) to exempt developments that had already received the necessary permits or were under construction before the rule took effect, ensuring that residents receive mail in their personal mailboxes as promised. The USPS must not be in the business of implementing rules that force private land to be used at the agency’s whim.

No one in Northeast Georgia —or anywhere in our nation — needs another raw deal out of Washington. The USPS must honor its obligation to households that were eligible or already receiving mail prior to implementation of the 2012 rules. I will continue working with local developers, homeowners, and the USPS to make sure this reasonable goal is met.