About eight months after they moved into their new houses, residents of a new Littlestown subdivision will receive home delivery of their mail this week.
Because of an obscure Postal Service regulation stating mail carriers cannot enter new developments until they are at least 50 percent complete, residents of the seven occupied duplexes in the Stoner's Farm development off Columbus Avenue have had to drive to Littlestown Post Office since last fall to pick up their mail.
But mail delivery was to begin for those residents this week, George Stumpf Jr., the Postal Service's manager of operations programs and support for the Harrisburg district, said Monday.
The news came as a relief to Stoner's Farm residents, including John Zepp, a former postal employee who previously spoke out on the unfairness of the situation. The post office and development are about a mile apart, but some Stoner's Farm residents have said it was hard for them to pick up their mail during business hours, which are from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
"All I ever wanted was my mail delivered," Zepp said. "No more and no less than what other people get."
Stumpf, who was out to visit the site last week, said Stoner's Farm is indeed an exception to the rule that prohibited home delivery.
"I was out there last Thursday, and I don't see any reason not to let the mail carriers go in there," he said.
Zepp maintained throughout the residents' lobbying process that any postal authority willing to come visit the site would be hard-pressed to deny service.
"(The developer) has done a great job out here keeping these 32-foot streets clear," Zepp said. "I knew if someone higher up saw it, they'd probably OK it. They deliver mail in worse places than this."
Nonetheless, Zepp said, he's grateful Stumpf took the time to come out and was willing to make an exception to the rule. He said, otherwise, he likely would have been making many more trips into town until Stoner's Farm increases from seven homes to the 31 required for 50 percent completion.
Stumpf himself said a sputtering housing sector in the struggling economy was a consideration in his allowing the delivery to proceed, saying to get to 50 percent at Stoner's Farm "is probably going to be a while."
Stoner's Farm developer Harry McKean said he is pleased with the decision, for which he's been fighting for some time. He, too, said he was confident a personal inspection would yield positive results.
"I'm not sure what (Stumpf) was expecting, but I told him until you see what we have out here, it's hard to make a call on it," McKean said.
Both McKean and Stumpf said possible problem areas such as manhole coverings protruding from unfinished streets, snow-plowing in winter and general cleanliness, and freedom from possibly hazardous debris have been taken care of and are not issues in Stoner's Farm.
"You like to think common sense will prevail on things like this," McKean said. "But, unfortunately, it's not always the case. I'm glad it could be in this situation, though."