Cole County currently has no policy to establish guidelines on mailbox installation and what to do when mailboxes are damaged by snowplows in the winter.
That could change in two weeks as the County Commission is looking at a mailbox policy proposed by the county public works department.
Public Works Director Eric Landwehr told commissioners Tuesday the policy would have two parts. One would address the size and construction standards of mailboxes and the other would deal with damages to mailboxes.
For the construction of mailboxes on county right-of-way, the policy would require property owners to follow guidelines set up by the U.S. Postal Service. The property owner would be required to erect mailboxes that would break or bend if a vehicle should hit them. It is also recommended that if you construct your own mailbox, instead of purchasing a pre-made box, you should have your plans approved by the postmaster.
Cole County would reserve the right to require a property owner to remove a mailbox that does not follow USPS requirements and is determined to be a safety issue.
Landwehr said the public works department gets several calls every year for replacing mailboxes damaged by snowplows in the winter.
"Some are legitimate, and some are due to the mailbox being in very poor condition," Landwehr said. "This policy addresses when we'll replace it at our cost and when we will not."
The policy recommends mailbox posts have a semi-arch or extend arm type of support such that snowplows can sweep under them without knocking the box down.
When a mailbox is damaged, the policy has two categories for the county to consider mailbox replacement:
• The snow plow comes in contact with the mailbox.
If this happens, public works staff will try to repair or replace the box with a temporary mailbox within 48 hours. The replacement would follow Federal Highway Administration recommendations of a metal mailbox on a 4x4 wooden post.
The county would not replace a plastic or decorative mailbox with similar materials. If the property owner wants to have something different from the standard, the property owner would have to do it on their own and the county would reimburse an amount equal to the current value of the standard post and mailbox.
• Snow being pushed off the road hits a mailbox.
If this occurs, the property owner would be responsible for repairing or replacing the mailbox. Landwehr said a properly maintained mailbox will withstand normal plowing operations.
The county may chose not to repair or replace mailboxes that are installed incorrectly by USPS standards for height and distance from the edge of the road, previously damaged and/or poorly maintained.
Reporting of mailbox damage should be made within five business days of when the damage occurred, under the proposed policy.
After a two-week period to allow for public comment on the mailbox proposal, the commission will consider approving the policy early next month.