Parking in front of a mailbox during hours that the U.S Postal Service delivers mail is now prohibited in the unincorporated part of St. Charles County.
The St. Charles County Council approved a bill at its Nov. 14 meeting that prohibits parking a vehicle within 10 feet of a public or private mailbox on mornings and afternoons during the week and on Saturdays. Violations could result in a fine between $50 and $300.
Councilman Michael Elam [District 3] introduced the bill on Oct. 24 that included a blanket prohibition on parking in front of mailboxes. The substitute bill that Elam offered on Nov. 14 adjusted the hours when the parking ban would be in effect. Elam said the old bill offered some inconvenience to residents who had gatherings at their homes on Sundays, holidays and evenings where people need places to park.
The new bill allows parking within 10 feet of any public or private mailbox on Sundays and federal holidays, between the hours of 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. the next morning and when necessary to avoid traffic conflicts or in compliance with an order from a police officer or traffic control device.
“We made this fit to when the post office is delivering mail,” Elam said. Councilman Joe Cronin [District 1] said the bill now mirrors what similar restrictions in other municipalities. That may come into play particularly if a street is a boundary between a city and unincorporated area, he said.
Elam said in October he sponsored the bill because of a couple of “feuding neighbors” in his district. One neighbor decided to park an abandoned or unused vehicle on the street in front of the other neighbor’s mailbox. Elam told council members that the assumption was that parking in front of a mail box is illegal and a federal offense. But postal officials said local laws apply.
“We found that there was nothing on the books that says you can’t do that,” Elam said in October. County municipalities have laws on their books but the county doesn’t, said County Police Chief David Todd.
If a mail box is blocked and they cannot approach or exit the area near a mailbox, the U.S. Postal Service stops delivering mail. The resident affected has to go to the post office to get their mail. Todd said county police have had to deal with situation where one neighbor essentially says “tough.” He said a new law would help police deal with this situation. Other councilman agreed.
“It’s a shame it comes down to that,” said Councilman Michael Klinghammer [District 6].