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Mailboxes soon could become ‘no parking zones’

Parking in front of a mailbox soon could be taboo in St. Charles County.

Parking in front of a mailbox soon could be taboo in St. Charles County.

Parking in front of a mailbox soon could become an official no-no in unincorporated portions of St. Charles County.

The St. Charles County Council gave first reading on Oct 24 to a bill that would prohibit stopping or parking a vehicle within 10 feet of a public or private mailbox. The only exceptions would be when the driver was attempting to avoid traffic or when pulled over by a police officer. Violations could result in fines between $50 and $300.

Councilmember Michael Elam [District 3] sponsored the bill because of a couple of “feuding neighbors” in his district. One neighbor decided to park an abandoned or unused vehicle on a street in front of the other neighbor’s mailbox.

Elam told councilmembers that the assumption was that parking in front of a mailbox is illegal and a federal offense. It is not; however, postal officials said local laws apply.

If a mailbox is blocked and the U.S. Postal Service cannot enter or exit the area safely, mail delivery simply stops, forcing the resident to pick up mail at the post office.

But Elam said, “We found that there was nothing on the books that says you can’t do that [park in front of a mailbox].”

County municipalities have laws regarding the practice, but the county does not, County Police Chief David Todd said.

Todd said county police have had to deal with situation where one neighbor essentially says “tough.” He said it’s an inconvenience to residents and a new law would help police deal with this situation. Other councilmembers agreed.

“It’s a shame it comes down to that,” Councilmember Michael Klinghammer [District 6] said.

The council is expected to give a second reading and vote on the bill as early as its Nov. 14 meeting. Councilmember Joe Cronin [District 1] said he wanted to add his name as a sponsor.

“It’s a good bill,” he said.

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