PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. - Quickly and without much fanfare in 2012 the US Postal Service changed mail delivery policy. Many new subdivisions will no longer get mail delivered to a personal mailbox. Instead, it'll go to cluster boxes put in one centralized location. And that has come as a surprise to developers, county leaders and most of all homeowners.
Paulding County is one of the fastest growing counties in the country. People live there for the wide open spaces. More house for the money. But, chances are, that brand new home will no longer come with old-fashioned mail delivery.
Flashback to your apartment living days. Modern day mail is starting to come to centralized cluster boxes or CBUs.
Homeowner Mia Woods said she found out about the policy change when she got a letter in April from the Post Office.
"And that letter was sent to us 24 hours before mail completely stopped."
Almost three years ago to the day a 2012 federal policy to move away from home mail delivery was implemented. It's well known the Post Office needs to save money. It's own data obtained by FOX 5 shows it costs $224 per household a year to deliver mail curbside. A centralized box would drop the cost to $160.
Mia Woods sat with neighbors surprised and confused why some of them have received curbside mail delivery since moving here in October just to have it stopped so abruptly.
After delivery was cut off, their mail first shifted to the local post office for pick up until the developer could build a CBU.
We were leaving their neighborhood and decided to see how long it does take to get the mail. It took more than 21 minutes to get to the nearest post office. Working families had a hard time making it to the Post Office when it was open.
"In reality, once ever two weeks, every three weeks I get my mail," said Mia Woods.
So the developer, also frustrated, struck a temporary compromise with the federal government. Mail delivery would be shifted to the developer's office. A four-minute drive.
Deborah McElvey said, "It's an armoire. A wood armoire and you open the doors, and basically, your neighbor could get your mail. No one would know. They don't monitor it. If you have a package, it's just hanging out."
But even this is very temporary. If the developer doesn't get the centralized boxes up by mid October, their mail will be re-routed again.
"It says our letters will be sent back because we have nowhere of delivering the mail. We have a perfectly good mailbox that we used for seven months," said Mia Woods.
The developer in a letter to the FOX 5 I-Team said, a cluster box can be a great idea if it can be "planned and implemented properly." Mark Stevenson wrote, that the only place for one now is along "a well traveled road." He says it would "not be safe."
James Touchton with the Council for Quality Growth says the Post Office has communicated poorly with developers, county planners, DOT and homeowners' associations. He would like to see the government push pause on this program.
He says a lot of localities have complained to him they're still trying to sort out: Who pays for the boxes? How about their upkeep? How much parking is needed?
"Let's do this the right way. We are not against a better and efficient Post Office service. We are for a more efficient way of implementing this ordinance," he said.