A new federal mandate from the U.S. Post Office could mean that traditional single mailboxes in newer subdivisions will become a thing of the past, in favor of so-called uniform "cluster mailboxes," the kind most frequently associated with apartment complexes and urban dwellings.
The issue has caught members of the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors slightly off guard but Board of Supervisors President Mark Gardner said counties across the U.S. may not have recourse but to comply.
"It wasn't our idea and we didn't like it," Gardner said. "It's a national rollout. There is nothing we can do about it. There is no safe place to put them. Who maintains them?"
District 4 Supervisor Lee Caldwell said the unfunded federal mandate raises all sorts of safety and traffic concerns.
"There is a safety issue. What if people pull up at night? Who is going to mow around it?" Caldwell said.
Those questions aside, the mandate has yet to be challenged at the federal level.
In fact, the U.S. Postal Service has indicated it might not deliver mail to newer subdivisions that don't comply, according to Gardner.
That being said, DeSoto County officials are resisting the suggestion that such cluster mailboxes should be placed on county-right-of-way instead of common areas in neighborhoods.
"Our department has met with the Board of Supervisors and representatives from the United States Postal Service concerning these guidelines," DeSoto County Director of Planning Bennie Hopkins said during Monday's Board of Supervisors meeting. "It has been determined that the cluster box unit (CBU) shall not be located within right-of-way areas," Hopkins said. "It has further been established that developers and contractors shall have the responsibility to contact their local postmasters to determine where cluster box units are to be located within proposed subdivision plats."
Hopkins said some areas in DeSoto County already have cluster mailboxes and have had them for awhile. Homes in rural areas and on larger lots are a different story and it appears those areas might be "grandfathered in."
"Anything new — newer subdivisions will likely have to have to do cluster mailboxes," Hopkins said.
In the same breath, Hopkins said that subdivisions that have preliminary approval have no provisions for cluster mailboxes.
Gardner said there are simply too many questions being raised by the mandate.
"There are a lot of concerns the public has about safety," Gardner said. "The developers are concerned about it because they are having to give up real estate they would rather sell."
Gardner said he was not sure if the Mississippi Association of Supervisors had taken a position on the issue.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at email@example.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.