A new local subdivision area has a pool, a homeowner’s association, and convenient access to medical facilities, shops, and restaurants -- but it does not have mail service.
New homeowners in the Dothan Charleston Mills subdivision are caught in the middle of the dispute between the U.S. Postal Service and Stone Martin Builders, the developers behind the subdivision.
“We are not getting mail, period,” Charleston Mills homeowner Carol Porter said on Tuesday.
Porter and her husband closed on their home in the newly built northwest Dothan subdivision in October of last year. As they were going through the closing process, she said they were told they would not be getting U.S.P.S. mail delivered to their home.
“It was brought to our attention that they were working on the mail issue and it shouldn’t be long and they would be coming to some type of resolution with the mail service,” she said.
She and her husband have been paying for a P.O. Box at the Midland City post office, which they visit three times a week to retrieve their mail.
Though all Charleston Mills homes have private mailboxes in front of their homes, Porter said Tuesday she still was not getting any mail.
Kevin Mills closed on his home on Jan. 7 of this year. He didn’t learn of the mail problem until he reached out to his soon-to-be neighbors.
“It’s just irritating,” Mills said. “It’s a minor inconvenience. We can go to the post office and get our mail; it’s just something we shouldn’t have to do.”
Without written notification from the U.S.P.S. or Stone Martin Builders about what the issue was, Mills did some personal research and discovered the issue was present in several newly developed communities around the country.
The issue seems to stem from guidance developed in December 2017 by U.S.P.S., saying developers should include cluster mailboxes in future development plans for new residential communities.
However, the guidance was turned into a mandate and started being selectively enforced sometime in 2019 in a few areas across the nation. In Clarksville, Tennessee, developers pulled out the mailboxes in front of homes under contract since they were not going to be used, according to the Leaf Chronicle.
Mail service to some Clarksville residents simply stopped without warning.
“I don’t understand the issue with not wanting to deliver to us,” Porter said. “We’re ready to get this behind us. We love our home. We love the area. We just want to be happy.”
A regional U.S.P.S. representative did not immediately return comment regarding the lack of mail delivery.
Mills says the problem continues to be transparency with the developers and U.S.P.S.
When asked what he could do to help with the problem, Mills said he was sent a flier from Stone Martin Builders encouraging residents to bring the issue to their government representatives.
“It seems more like a marketing piece than a real effort to solve the problem,” he said. “I don’t have a horse in the race. I don’t care if they put in community mail boxes or a personal mail box, I just want my mail.”
A Stone Martin Builders representative said they were handling the problem “the best we can,” and referred other inquiries to the Home Owners Association property manager Regency Management.
“That is being handled by the developers. They have been in contact with the postmaster and it’s going up the chain,” the property manager said on Tuesday.
She said it is the closing agent’s responsibility to disclose the mail service issue with home buyers.
Stone Martin is still selling custom homes on lots in the subdivision at around $350,000 to $450,000 each.
With the Charleston Mills’ expanding development and several new subdivisions being constructed on the northwest side of Dothan, there will likely be more issues with mail delivery in the near future unless there is a speedy resolution.