SLW Board Rejects Merger of Addresses

Trees in bloom outside the Seven Lakes West mailhouse. Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot

By Maggie Beamguard

Insider Editor

Following a period of study that included a survey of Seven Lakes West residents, the Seven Lakes West Board of Directors recently unanimously voted against a proposal that would have aligned mailhouse addresses with physical addresses. 

The unusual mail situation is a product of original agreements between the U.S. Postal Service and the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association. 

In its early days, mail was briefly delivered directly to homes in Seven Lakes. But the roads were in such poor condition that the post office eventually refused delivery. 

Language in the original declaration of the community from July 27, 1979 indicates that upon the building of a central mail station, individual mailboxes “shall be removed and no more mailboxes approved.”

Numerous efforts have been made over the years to reinstate curbside delivery, but postal officials rejected any such changes. 

Having two addresses — a mailhouse address and noncorresponding street address — for each resident has resulted in confusion and lost or misdirected packages through the years for some residents, especially during the busy holiday shipping season. 

A recently completed mail house renovation and expansion provided an opportunity for the homeowners association to explore with the USPS the possibility of finally matching the mailhouse addresses to the physical addresses.

Members of the property association’s infrastructure committee began meeting with postal officials earlier this year about changing over to one address.

The board held community meetings and conducted a survey of residents. According to the survey, 546 residents voted, with 374 votes, or 68.5 percent, favoring realignment of addresses and 172 residents, or 31.5 percent, voting to keep the addresses the same. 

A plan to streamline addresses certainly appealed to residents, but it wasn’t without logistical challenges, including regrouping mailboxes into geographical proximity and changing all locks and issuing new keys to box holders. The cost to rekey mailboxes and provide new keys was initially estimated to be $7,700 but a later cost estimate rose to $25,000.

While a majority of homeowners who voted in the survey supported the changes, the decision ultimately rested with the board of directors which they made at the May 21 board meeting. 

According to the weekly eBlast on May 24, the board decided to maintain the current mailing system. 

“It is understandable to hear of the disappointment in the final BOD vote of 0 in favor and 6 against changing to our street addresses,” the board made in its statement. “The BOD members did not discuss our individual votes in advance of the BOD meeting and some BOD members were as surprised as community members may have been after the vote.

“We did this openly at two meetings, which also provided more information for our BOD discussions,” read their statement. “The BOD spent an enormous amount of time discussing scenarios for execution should we approve the change and impacts to the community along the way. The cons, the execution of overcoming them, and the growing number of unknowns, appeared to weigh more heavily upon us as we learned more details.”

Individually, the directors concluded that the logistics and remaining questions would result in disruption throughout the community. The directors also provided individual statements about their rationale for arriving at their votes. 

The individual statements acknowledged different challenges associated with the proposed changes, described by board members as “daunting.”  

And while some board members expressed they had initially been for the change, they grew to understand the logistical nightmare they faced.  

Some of the reasons offered by different board members for their decision included:

* the physical reorganization of the boxes, which may negatively impact those with physical disabilities and special needs;

* a loss of flexibility regarding the position of mailboxes;

* an estimated six- to eight-month implementation period;

* a temporary increase in misdirected mail during the transition period;

* the burden of implementation of such a large scale project on the new community management team; and,

* statements by the postmaster and post office employees about the magnitude of the challenges with the proposed changes and unknown issues that could arise.

Contact Maggie Beamguard at