Officials: Postal service not complying with agreement

Posted

Thursday, December 4
MANCHESTER — The U.S. Postal Service is refusing to comply with a local agreement that it has honored for the past 20 years, town officials said Tuesday.

The postal service agreed to maintain a downtown presence when it moved the post office from the now Advanced Eyecare building on Main Street to its current location on Richville Road in 1988.

'Signed an agreement'

"They signed an agreement with the Planning Commission in 1988 agreeing to a number of terms," Planning Director and Zoning Administrator Lee Krohn said Tuesday, "this being a key element."

The stipulation was placed on the permit because Richville Road residents feared the new post office would add significant traffic in their largely residential community. And the postal service upheld its end of the deal, operating out of the Village Valet, until recently.

However, since the Village Valet closed in the last year, the postal service has not established a new downtown presence and is refusing to, Krohn said.

He said he began reminding officials at the postal service of their responsibility in the spring. After not hearing back on a number of occasions, he received a three-page letter from their legal counsel informing him that they would not be abiding by the condition set on the local permit.

"Not only would they not comply, they didn't need to and they couldn't, even citing the U.S. Constitution," Krohn said of the letter.

Krohn said regardless of the legal obligations, which are still unclear, the postal service should have approached the town in a more "appropriate and respectful manner." He said officials have claimed that they have looked for new locations unsuccessfully. However, Krohn said they are no longer willing to offer compensation to the store owner. "It's not an offer I would find credible or reasonable under any circumstance," he said.

Edward Morrow, owner of Northshire Bookstore, said he contacted postal service officials about setting up the office in his store, but they told him he could only buy stamps and then sell them at the same price. "That's not a deal I'm interested in," he said.

Select Board Chairman Ivan Beattie said he hoped the issue would be resolved. "We wouldn't be doing our job if we allowed them to operate outside of compliance," he said.

Krohn said at the very least, the postal service should apply for an amendment to the permit. He said he was still considering all of his options on Wednesday about how to proceed.


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