USPS facility relocation in village a bad move

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has chosen the old Bellsouth/Village Hall site at 8950 SW 152 St. as its venue of choice for relocating the Kendall regional customer service and mail distribution center currently located on S. Dixie Highway and SW 131st Street in Pinecrest.

The building, currently leased, has been sold and the post office needs to be up and running quickly in a new location by May 2014.

According to the USPS, and as confirmed by the Palmetto Bay village attorney, site selection and land use is the sole discretion of the USPS under the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 and the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, at its discretion, any and all local governing laws regarding land use, permitting and zoning may be preempted.

Discretion being the operative word, has the USPS performed due diligence and made a responsible decision in its site selection as an agency of the Federal Government?

We must first understand the scope of the operation. The Kendall USPS customer service and regional processing center has operational hours from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. bringing multiple tractor trailer rigs in and out on a daily basis, picking up and delivering mail to be sorted while serving as a hub for over 40 mail carriers. It additionally offers 24-hour post office boxes and a full retail counter.

At first glance one might think — yes. The property is available. The leasable space and property layout appear nearly readymade to meet the needs. For residents, generally having a post office conveniently located nearby doesn’t sound bad either.

But let’s take a closer look.

Is the property located within the USPS Kendall region served? No. This processing center presently serves Pinecrest, The Falls, Dadeland and areas to the north and west — not Palmetto Bay. Palmetto Bay is serviced by the Quail Roost processing facility located to the south on SW 186th Street.

Is this property located in an appropriate industrial/commercial area? No. It abuts residential properties on three sides — north, east and south — and is serviced by only one two-lane transit corridor.

Does this move comply with land use laws and restrictions that govern this property? No and no again.

According to the Village of Palmetto Bay’s director of Planning and Zoning, this level of use is in direct violation of the building and zoning laws that govern the property. Moreover, it also violates longstanding deed restrictions held by the homeowners association, Alliance of Coral Reef Estates (ACRE), which run with the property and property owner. Moving to this location would require trampling over individual property rights in addition to local governing laws.

Is the infrastructure and transit corridor supporting this property sufficient to absorb this change of use? No. The only transit corridor supporting this property is SW 152nd Street where it is still restricted to two lanes. Anyone who travels this corridor knows that this service segment leading up to S. Dixie Highway on the east side has been a choke point for years. It was studied in depth back in 2004 by the Corradino Group and Richard Garcia & Associates, rated a level of service (LOS) “D” and has only progressively gotten worse since.

All attempts to date by the Village of Palmetto Bay and Miami-Dade County to mitigate the dangerous and dysfunctional conditions have been miserable failures — the last of which were lane delineator sticks installed to help restrict traffic turns within the area. While a few of these sticks have survived the wrath of frustrated commuters, the Farm Stores was not as fortunate and closed down shortly after their installation when patrons living in Palmetto Bay traveling east no longer were able to directly access their store.

With 15 commercial entries and exits presently snarling this two-block segment, traffic frequently backs up westbound in peak periods well past 89th Court and as far east as 87th Avenue.

Where do frustrated and impatient commuters go now under these conditions? They find alternative routes through the residential neighborhood streets, such as 88th and 89th avenues and 89th Court, which become freeways of relief for access to S. Dixie Highway by Starbuck’s (SW 148th Street) to the north or by Ford (SW 156th Street) to the south. The addition of the USPS operational and consumer traffic only will exacerbate these conditions.

Is this a safe environment into which to bring commercial operators, employees and postal customers? No. The infrastructure is clearly insufficient and unless they are also planning to make substantial improvements and pay for them, dealing with the public safety nightmare that will surely unfold will be left up to the local governments and taxpayers.

How will those that come in from S. Dixie Highway return to S. Dixie Highway when traffic is routinely backed up beyond the exits? We can expect that they too will wind up taking the path of least resistance by turning east into the residential community to avoid traffic further compounding an already very dangerous situation. These alternate routes are the very same streets where residents and children play, ride their bikes, skateboard and walk their dogs.

This is a public safety nightmare in the making with potentially tragic results. The only way to remedy this situation is to add substantial infrastructure to the corridor.

So upon further review, has the USPS performed due diligence and made a responsible decision in their site selection? No.

This doesn’t make any sense at all. Zoning laws and deed restrictions are created for a purpose — to prevent uncontrolled and haphazard development — protect property values — preserve quality of life and maintain public safety. In this case, the USPS “at their discretion” has obviously chosen to preempt the very laws intended to do so in total disregard for the for the property rights of the adjacent homeowners under covenant and the managing authorities of our local government.

It all adds up to an irresponsible, selfserving and egregious overreach of power on the part of the Federal Government and USPS that unjustly shifts the burden of property rights defense to the residents and costs of impact mitigation to those very same taxpayers at the local governing level.

I wonder if this was what those who authored the Postal Reorganization Act in 1970 long, long ago intended — to be truly of the people, by the people, for the people?

Our local elected officials and governing authorities should be mad as hell and all over this. Regardless of the supremacy clause, it is incumbent upon all of them — Village of Palmetto Bay, Miami-Dade County, State of Florida and our U.S. Senate and Congressional leaders — to put a stop to this move or at the very least, hold the USPS accountable to meet the needs of mitigation both practically and financially, just as the laws would require if it were a private entity attempting to change the legal use of this property.

The time is now for them to step forward on behalf of their constituents. Every resident, business owner and commuter needs to call them to task. Email, write and call them.

Can’t wait to see who will take the lead on this and how many actually will come forward to represent the community’s best interests and stand up for the constitutional rights of our citizenry.

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