The new development of Kelly Glen north of Bel Air has single-family homes costing upward of $500,000 tucked away between the Bel Air Bypass and Route 1 (Conowingo Road), with direct access to the latter, but residents have one major problem: They can't get their mail delivered.
Those who moved to the neighborhood said the U.S. Postal Service told them they do not qualify for curbside mail delivery. Residents have been stepping up complaints to the Postal Service, pointing out they have to drive to a post office just to pick up their daily mail.
Thus far, however, the Postal Service is sticking to its guns.
Jen Morris said she moved to the neighborhood in June, when all members of the community were getting curbside delivery. On Sept. 11, she received a letter saying all new construction must have centralized mailboxes and the curbside delivery was going away.
"Unfortunately, this change in delivery meant we would now have to pick up our mail from the Bel Air Post Office on a daily basis," Morris said. "Naturally, it was extremely disappointing to find that this is the Postal Service that our tax money is going towards, and many of our neighbors feel the same way."
The Bel Air Post Office, which is off Gateway Drive near Harford Mall, is on the opposite side of town from Kelly Glen.
Yvette Singh, communications coordinator for the Postal Service's Baltimore District, said the Postal Service decides which delivery method works best and it is ultimately up to the developer of the community to create that method. For Kelly Glen, that would mean centralized mailboxes, she said.
About 28 Kelly Glen customers have been having mail held for them at the Bel Air Post Office, Singh said.
"The Postal Service determines the method of delivery for new developments," Singh said. "The developer is not allowing the Postal Service to install clusterboxes. Homeowners are setting up a time to meet [with the developers[ and have been contacting their elected officials."
She said the residents' situation will not change until the developer does what the Postal Service requires.
"The way they are receiving it now is the way they are going to have to get it until they install the clusterboxes," she said, adding the requirement has been consistent for new developments nationwide, whether townhomes or single-family homes.
"We are prepared to install the clusterboxes," she said. "This is not the first community that has been through that."
"Any delivery is determined by the Postal Service, not the developer," Singh said.
The Postal Service also rebutted a letter from the residents' congressman, Rep. Andy Harris, who contacted the Postal Service on their behalf because of the complaints.
"The Postal Operations Manual (POM) Revision: Modes of Delivery and Delivery Equipment, effective April 05, 2012, provides the Postal Service with autonomy in determining the modes of delivery when adding new deliveries, thereby enabling the Postal Service to provide services adequate and necessary to meet the basic function in the most efficient manner," the Postal Service wrote Harris.
"Clearly, centralized delivery provides services adequate and necessary to meeting its basic function in the most cost efficient manner," the letter continued. "The Postal Service has contacted Mr. Charlton from the Kelly Glen Development on several occasions to assist with the placement of the centralized boxes. We have reviewed the site and feel centralized boxes could be placed in a safe location on Hartley Way, near the entrance to the development and also on Many Lane near the walking trail. We are willing to meet with and assist Mr. Charlton to expedite this process."
Resident Gerry Miller was not happy to see the letter to Harris.
"I was surprised that the district manager for Postal Service did not restore curbside delivery to our community when he was asked to do so by Congressman Harris," Miller said. "Out of respect for Mr. Harris, and his position, I think it would have been the right thing to do."
Morris also said the Postal Service has been disrespectful of residents' complaints and disorganized in handling their mail in general, noting that mail has not been sorted when residents come to pick it up at the post office and is often delayed by days.
"Unfortunately, our experiences at the Post Office have been extremely negative," Morris said. "It was made clear to us that some of the Post Office employees regard the members of the Kelly Glen community as a nuisance."
She noted the Post Office Manual says new homes or businesses built within a block of existing homes or businesses will receive the same type of service as the older properties, and Kelly Glen is within a block of homes that get curbside delivery.
"Our concern is that Kelly Glen does not have an acceptable location to put the centralized mailboxes," Morris said. "If they are placed at the entrance of the community this would not be safe or convenient, as the entrance is located near a major road (Conowingo Road) and is not within a block of most houses. Additionally, the only other place to put centralized boxes is on someone's properly, which cannot happen."
Morris noted Kelly Glen many residents paid close to $500,000 for their homes.
"When choosing to live in Kelly Glen, having curbside delivery was a part of the package. It is very disappointing that we have invested so much into a new home, only to find that we must now fight for curbside mailboxes," she said.
"We have filed several online and over-the-phone complaints, all regarding the lack of curbside delivery at Kelly Glen, as well as the issues we have had in getting our mail from the post office, not getting all of our mail, employee attitude, etc.," Morris continued.