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Petition to allow mail boxes in right-of-way

A petition was filed on February 1, 2009, calling for an initiated measure to be put on the ballot of the city election to be held April 14.

Signatures on the petition represented at least five percent of the registered voters within the City of Philip. The initiated measure is to change the current ordinance prohibiting private structures located in the public rights-of-way. If passed, mailboxes could be erected in the area between the street and the sidewalk of a private lot within the City of Philip.

Ordinance 7-600 reads, "Whereas, the City of Philip has determined that private structures located in public rights-of way are detrimental to the public health, safety and general welfare; and whereas the purpose of the public right-of-way is to provide a way of passage for the public, to provide as area of drainage, to provide an open area between the paved portion of the roadway and the placement of structures, to provide an area for the installation and maintenance of public utilities; and whereas, the allowance of private structures in the public right-of-way would defeat the purpose of having a public right-of-way."

"It shall be unlawful for any person to erect, build, construct, deposit or place on or in any street, or any place where the public has the right of passage, in the public right-of-way, any building, structure or obstruction of any kind whatsoever. ... This ordinance does not apply to any traffic control device or traffic sign."

The initiated measure would simply change the last sentence to, "This ordinace does not apply to any traffic control device, traffic sign or mailbox."

If the Philip law is changed, mail will not necessarily be delivered to a mailbox that stands in front of a building because mail delivery routes are set by the federal government. Mail delivery contracts for any specific route are bid for according to the number of miles on that route, the fuel estimated to cover that route and the number of stops on that particular route.

As of June of 1998, any mail recipient who lives within a quarter of a mile from the post office and not on a current mail route may use a post office box for free. Addresses that receive delivered mail, otherwise known as postal approved locations, are on the direct line of travel of a mail route.

If a group of mail recipients mutually agreed to a cluster of mailboxes on the edge of their neighborhood, the cost and maintenance would be theirs. A mail route deliverer is not required to exit their vehicle, thus if anything obstructs a delivery truck, no stop has to be made. A person not wanting such a cluster of boxes in front of his residence, could theoretically park a car in front of the boxes, hoping the lack of mail delivery would eventually cause the boxes to be moved. If a child were to be injured by riding a bicycle into the boxes, who would be liable? The boxes are technically on private property that is considered a right-of-way.

The initiated measure will be on the ballot April 14. There is a possibility that three city council member positions will also be voted upon. Two school board positions will be on the ballot.