Rep. Lee Zeldin on Aug. 19, 2015 announced his formal request for new zip codes for Flanders, Riverside and Northampton. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The U.S. Postal Service has rejected Rep. Lee Zeldin’s request for new zip codes for Flanders, Riverside and Northampton.

In a Sept. 4 letter to the congressman,  L.I. district manager Elvin Mercado said Riverhead does not meet the criteria set forth in postal regulations for a zip code split.

Zeldin has filed an appeal of the decision and, an aide said, has requested a meeting with the postmaster general “to discuss this issue in person, so that he can express face-to-face how important this issue is in our local community.”

The zip code does not have enough delivery routes or delivery points to support a split pursuant to USPS regulations. (See July 31 story, “Flanders, Riverside, Northampton seek zip code split— 11902, 11903 and 11904 would be served by Riverhead facility”)

“Currently the office has 23 routes, a scheme with less than 600 items, street deliveries totaling 11,450 deliveries and fewer than 50 percent of the sectors are currently used,” Mercado wrote in the letter, a copy of which was provided to RiverheadLOCAL by Zeldin’s office. “None of these thresholds were met that would suggest a zip code split should be done.”

But Flanders residents and businesses could be allowed to used “Flanders NY 11901” in the last line of their addresses, the district manager said. Flanders, Mercado wrote, is currently “in the AMS database as an acceptable last line mailing name for 11901.” The Town of Southampton would have to submit a list identifying the streets and boundaries of Flanders, the USPS manager said. “This will change all postal customers in this affected area to have Flanders as their last line,” Mercado said. But the 11901 zip code would remain.

Northampton and Riverside cannot be used as a last line mailing name, Mercado said, because there are already other places in New York with those names and that would cause sorting problems for the postal service.

The district manager also disputed the claim that there are too many duplicate street names in the 11901 zip code area. He said there are only five duplicates in the 11901 zip code.

Zeldin on Oct. 13 submitted an appeal of the L.I. district manager’s decision to the USPS office in Washington responsible for such appeals.

In his letter of appeal, Zeldin requested the USPS to conduct “a full and complete analysis of the issue, something he said was lacking in the L.I. district manager’s decision.

The manager’s conclusion that there are only five duplicate addresses in the 11901 zip code, “was compiled from a rushed and incomplete 12 business day analysis,” Zeldin said. There is “an abundance of identical street names as well as similarly named streets” in Riverhead and Southampton towns. He listed Bell Avenue, Brown Street, Cedar Avenue, Center Drive, East Street, Maple Avenue and Park Place as examples. When similarly named streets are taken into account, Zeldin said, “it would amount to a total of 50 streets shared between the two townships directly affected by this problem.”

He cited reported problems encountered by emergency responders answering calls on streets with duplicate names in Riverhead and Flanders, as well as delays in delivery and “outright loss of packages” due to duplication.

Also, “the USPS has created unique zip codes for communities of equal and smaller population size in the past,” Zeldin wrote.”If exceptions can be made for the small communities of Quogue, East Quogue, Calverton, Jamesport, Laurel and Baiting Hollow, why can’t they also be made for the communities of Riverside, Flanders and Northampton?”

Zeldin spokesperson Jennifer DiSiena said the congressman’s office is “focused on working with the local community to keep the pressure on USPS.”

“We will keep pushing on this very important local issue and keep you informed during the process,” DiSiena said in an email last night.

“The process is ongoing and we are expecting a response from the postmaster general’s office shortly,” she said.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.