Avondale Estates doesn't want roadside mailboxes in the historic district.
Since the early 1970s, the city has prohibited them in the 1,250 acres and 540 homes and businesses that comprise the original part of the city, as well as some adjoining neighborhoods. The rule was imposed for aesthetic purposes.
But that smooth, unbroken view of the curb may be endangered.
The Postal Service says longtime residents can maintain door delivery, but new residents will have to erect curbside mailboxes--or suffer the inconvenience of picking up their mail at the post office.
The city government is pushing back. The city attorney fired off--actually mailed--an angry response to the Postal Service, saying "the City of Avondale Estates and its residents do not agree to convert to curbside delivery." (See attached images of the letter.)
Explained Mayor Ed Rieker, "Nobody is sure this is actually legal. It seems to be more a local policy than a law."
Until the issue is settled, the city commission probably will hold off on repealing the mailbox ordinance, Rieker said. Anybody who puts up one won't be cited, he said.
Only a handful of people have been affected so far.
When Steve Zuschin moved to town in August, the Postal Service refused to deliver mail because he only had a mailbox on the porch, like his neighbors on Majestic Circle. He had to pick up his mail at the post office.
Zuschin solved the problem by buying a $40 mailbox on a post and planting it beside the road.
"It was a little annoying," he said.
Postal Service spokesman Michael Miles said the agency is trying to cut costs. He said it costs about $200 a year to deliver mail to the curb and $300 a year to the door.
Most people forced to put up curbside boxes don't complain because they probably had curbside service at their old home, he said.
That happened to Kathy Church and her husband, who moved to South Avondale Road in August. They went through the same thing when they lived on Ridley Circle in Decatur.
Despite the supposed increase in efficiency, Church is not in love with her mailbox, the only one in sight.
"When you look down the street," she said, "it's this one oddball mailbox."
Betty Jones, a resident of the historic district since 1964, hopes the city prevails.
"It's something we've always had and we've gotten used to it," she said. "It does look better without them."