Damaged Mailboxes Dominate Town Board Discussion

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MTT News's picture
Kevin Murphy
Homeowners along Cardinal Point Trl have had to patch up their snow damaged mailboxes this winter to keep their mail coming. Glenn Allen points to where a snow plow truck recently backed into his mailbox damaging the post and requiring it to be replaced.

MIDDLETON–The town of Middleton is taking heat from homeowners with expensive mailboxes over its policy of paying a maximum of $50 to replace mailboxes damaged by snow plows.

So far this year, the town has paid eight claims and has about 18 under consideration, Town Administrator Greg DiMiceli said at Monday’s town board meeting.

The problem some residents have pointed out, is that the covenants of their home owner’s associations require mailboxes be made out of materials costing more than $50.

Glenn Allen, of English Daisy Ct., told the town board supervisors that he wants his plow-damaged $250 mailbox replaced as driver negligence should be an exception to the dollar limits of the policy

“Driver error shouldn’t be covered by the policy. It (the mailbox) should be replaced due to negligence,” he said.

A town plow truck driver backed into his mailbox damaging the post, said Allen, and shouldn’t be considered different than any other driver mishap than damages private property.

Board Supervisor Richard Oberle offered that mailboxes are installed in the town’s right of way, “which is how we’re getting away,” with a limited-dollar policy.

The town’s attorney has been consulted on the situation and said the town’s existing policy is reasonable, said Town Chair Cynthia Richson.

While the town has balked at covering the cost of expensive mailboxes it has been “lenient” and getting homeowners the benefit of the doubt in paying off claims at $50, DiMiceli said.

“We take pictures and in most cases there’s not a scratch on them, but they’re busted,” he said, indicating a mailbox was damaged not by being hit by a plow but by snow pushed against them.

The Wisconsin Towns Association advises towns not to pay for mailboxes damaged from snow being pushed against them, Richson said. If a property owner shows proof that their mailbox was damaged by negligence of the snow plow operator, then pay about $75 in compensation.

The town’s policy is consistent with other surrounding communities, DiMiceli said. He noted that the city of Middleton pays $80 and this year has experienced more mailbox complaints than usual.

Many mailboxes are supported by a wooden 4-by-4-inch post encased in a plastic sleeve and when temperatures drop the sleeve becomes brittle and prone to damage when snow is pushed against them, said DiMiceli.

“We shouldn’t be on the hook for paying for fancy mailboxes,” he said.

A homeowner in the Spruce Hollow subdivision said hers and about 14 other mailboxes have been “demolished” this winter. Some will cost $300 to replace, due to materials specified in the homeowner association covenants.

Some homeowners said they understand that mailboxes and posts will be damaged due to the nature of snow removal, however, they don’t look forward to replacing them on a near-annual basis.

A quick windshield survey of the street on Tuesday morning found many homeowners had recently taped up their damaged mailbox posts in order to keep them upright and their mail delivery continued.

The town board, with supervisors Thomas Stemrich and Paul Connell absent, weren’t eager to amend the mailbox policy, taking no action on it.

The town crew has been asked not to plow too close to mailboxes but that has generated some calls to town hall from residents who aren’t able to get to their mailboxes easily, DiMiceli said.

The town board approved hiring Megan Hughes as deputy treasurer. Her employment begins April 4. 

A week after the Tourism Commission set the dates for Sunflower Days 2019, it moved up the dates Monday to July 26 to August 4. Richson explained the commission wanted to track the dates the Friends of Pope Farm Conservancy have used for the 10-day event and hopefully timing the dates to when the flowers are expected to bloom.

The town board named Curt Caslavka and Jim Bolitho as "Friends of the Town" for 2019. The annual honor wasn't bestowed last year but board supervisors said the "tremendous amount of hours volunteering," at Pope Farm Conservancy made Caslavka and Bolitho worthy recipients of the award this year. 


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