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No traditional mailboxes for new subdivisions
Apartment-like setup being rolled out to help Postal Service
Traditional mailboxes won't be found in new subdivisions thanks to a recent change by the Postal Service. - photo by For the FCN

FORSYTH COUNTY — Thanks to a new federal guideline, residents of future subdivisions in Forsyth County may have to walk a little farther to check their mail.

“What we’re hearing from the United States Postal Service is that for new development they’re going to require what they call cluster box units,” said Tom Brown, the county’s planning and development director. “That’s where multiple mailboxes are in one location, as opposed to being at the end of the driveway or the entrance of the commercial project.”

The new system comes in the wake of the Postal Services’ recent economic woes.

“It’s a nationwide initiative,” said Gary Moulder with the Cumming Post Office. “The [Postal Service] determined that with the economic challenges … that it’s more economical for us to deliver say 30 to 100 boxes at one stop instead of stopping 30 to 100 times.”

The number of cluster box units, similar to those found in apartment complexes, will depend on the size of the neighborhood.

“All new developments — and this started at least a year and a half ago — technically will now be a centralized delivery,” Moulder said “Which means that everybody’s locking mailboxes will be in one spot per [on] average 30 or 40 or 50 houses.”

“A 200-home subdivision may have all of their mailboxes in one place or three or four places if it’s a big subdivision.

According to Brown, the county is just reacting to the federal decision.

“We could allow them to put a mailbox at the end of a driveway, but the U.S. Postal Service just isn’t going to deliver,” Brown said.

He added that he does expect some issues to crop up with developers, but that the matter likely wouldn’t need to go before the county commission.

“I anticipate that at the rezoning stage [of neighborhoods] we’re going to get into some dialog in the public hearing process and the review process about where exactly are you going to be locating these cluster box units, what are they going to look like, are they going to be in the common area, are they going to be set back properly,” Brown said.

“I think there is going to be some case-by-case examples where it gets discussed, but nothing as far as implementation.”

Moulder acknowledged it likely will take time for new residents to adjust, but said he had heard some positive feedback, especially since the boxes can be locked under the new setup.

“I’ve actually heard some good things about it from people,” he said. “That their mail is more secure … with mail theft and everything on the news almost every week. So there are some pluses to it.”