NEAR MAZEPPA, Minn. (KTTC) -- People with mailboxes along Wabasha County roads do not need to make expensive changes to their mailboxes after all. For the past month we've been following a mailbox dispute in Wabasha County, when 430 homeowners received a letter in the mail saying their mailbox didn't meet state guidelines and changes needed to be made by July 15th.
Wabasha County might seem like "Hazard County" to safety-minded local officials after a dispute that's been simmering the past month. Cars are still whizzing up and down Wabasha County's gravel roads, past mailboxes that have been declared hazards.
This wooden fence post has supported Steve's mailbox for the past 30 years, now the county says that it's a road hazard. In order to meet the state guidelines, Steve will have to make his fence post smaller.
"Replace it or chisel it out and cut it down so that it's down to 4-inches in diameter," explained homeowner Steve Wiech.
Wiech, one of the 430 affected homeowners, was frustrated when he received a letter in the mail.
"It just kind of came out of the blue. Why now are they coming around saying everyone's mailboxes aren't in compliance," described Wiech.
Right or wrong in his mind, he did make changes to his mailbox.
The latest twist, Wabasha County Engineer, Dietrich Flesh, said the box upgrades are "voluntary" and the county can't force anyone to make them.
"The board of commissioners wanted to take a softer approach and more of an informational approach in informing people of the correction that was needed and not making it a requirement at that time," stated Flesch.
Confusion for many homeowners set in when they read the letter and thought they were being "forced" to make changes. At Monday night's town hall meeting, concerns were addressed.
"The questions or comments were, why should I replace this, or what are the reasons for such authority or looking at mailbox supports," said Flesch.
At this point, there is no repercussion for residents who don't upgrade their boxes, but stay tuned because that could change later this summer.
Flesch said the highway department will go around and check all 430 mailboxes after July 15th to see if they are consistent with state guidelines. They'll bring their findings before the board of commissioners and then the board will decide what to do next.
Flesch said safety is key In the last decade there has been 1 fatality, 2 serious injury accidents and more than 10-property damage crashes, from collisions with mailboxes.
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