[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 88 (Thursday, May 7, 1998)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 25166-25167]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-12064]



39 CFR Part 241

Expansion, Relocation, Construction of New Post Offices

AGENCY: Postal Service.

ACTION: Interim rule.


SUMMARY: This interim rule establishes procedures by which the Postal 
Service notifies local citizens and public officials of facility 
projects, and solicits and considers the community's input before 
making a final decision to expand an existing facility, relocate to a 
new building, or start new construction. The purpose of the interim 
rule is to build into the facility project planning process specific 
opportunities and adequate time for the community to be a partner in 
the decision-making process and to have its views considered.

DATES: Effective: May 7, 1998. Comments must be received by June 8, 

ADDRESSES: Please submit written comments to Louis Norris, Manager, 
Real Estate, U.S. Postal Service, Facilities, 4301 Wilson Boulevard, 
Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22203-1861.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Sorenson, U.S. Postal Service, 
Facilities, 4301 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22203-1861; 
phone (703) 526-2782.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This interim rule adds a new Sec. 241.4 to 
39 CFR part 241 to require that both local public officials and local 
citizens be notified and invited to comment at critical stages of the 
planning to enlarge or relocate a postal customer service facility. In 
addition, the rule requires postal officials to take into account 
community input, including alternative recommendations.
    Throughout the towns and villages of America, people have long 
viewed their post office as much more than a place to send and receive 
mail. A community's post office is a vital part of its infrastructure--
a place to greet old friends, make new ones, and exchange information. 
With more than 35,000 leased and owned postal facilities, the Postal 
Service takes seriously its commitment to be a good neighbor and a 
vital part of every community.
    Adding new facilities and upgrading or replacing existing ones is a 
continuing activity that is influenced by population growth and shifts, 
the increasing automation of mail processing, aging and deteriorating 
building stock, and changing environmental and energy conservation 
requirements. In order to fulfill its role as a member of virtually 
every U.S. community, the Postal Service believes that, to the maximum 
extent possible, it should undertake its most locally significant 
projects--to relocate a post office, to build a new one, or to expand 
an existing facility--in partnership with the local community.
    This has long been Postal Service policy. These community relations 
guidelines are being published to help ensure that communities and 
local public officials, as well as postal employees, will have the most 
up-to-date policy and procedures for projects that involve expansion, 
relocation, or new construction of a post office, and to help ensure 
that all such projects are handled in accordance with the guidelines.
    The rule also formalizes the Postal Service's long-standing policy 
of complying with local zoning and land use ordinances and building 
codes when it can do so consistent with prudent business practices and 
unique postal requirements.
    This interim rule reflects existing policy and procedures and, in 
any event, imposes no burden on members of the public; therefore, it is 
effective immediately. Although exempted by 39 U.S.C. 410(a) from the 
advance notice requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act 
regarding proposed rulemaking (5 U.S.C. 553), the Postal Service 
invites public comment at the above address and will consider any 
comments received before issuing a final rule.
    Accordingly, the Postal Service amends, on an interim basis, 39 CFR 
part 241, as follows:

List of Subjects in 39 CFR Part 241

    Organization and functions (Government agencies).


    1. The authority citation for 39 CFR part 241 continues to read as 

    Authority: 39 U.S.C. 401.

    2. Effective May 7, 1998, 39 CFR part 241 is amended by adding 
Sec. 241.4, as follows:

Sec. 241.4  Expansion, relocation, and construction of post offices

    (a) Application. (1) This section applies when the Postal Service 
contemplates any one of the following projects that provides retail 
services to customers: expansion, relocation to another existing 
building, or new construction, except when the project is to meet an 
emergency requirement or is for temporary use.
    (2) This section does not apply when the project under 
consideration is limited to repair and alterations, such as:
    (i) Painting, no matter how extensive;
    (ii) Repairs, no matter how extensive;
    (iii) Replacement or upgrade of structural or functional elements 
of a postal building or of its equipment, no matter how extensive the 
    (iv) Paving, striping, or other repair of parking areas;
    (v) Landscaping.
    (b) Purpose. The purpose of the procedures required by this section 
is to ensure increased opportunities for members of the communities who 
may be affected by certain Postal Service facility projects, along with 
local officials, to convey their views concerning the contemplated 
project and have them considered prior to any final decision to expand, 
relocate to another existing building, or construct a new building.
    (c) Expansion, relocation, new construction. When an expansion, 
relocation, or new construction of a retail facility (whether leased or 
owned) is planned, postal representatives responsible for the project 
will take the following steps in accordance with the time schedule 
    (1) Personally visit one or more of the highest ranking local 
public officials (generally, individuals holding elective office) at 
least 45 days before any public advertising. During the visit, the 
postal representatives will:

[[Page 25167]]

    (i) Describe the project fully, explain the process by which the 
Postal Service will solicit and consider input from the affected 
community, and solicit a working partnership with the community 
officials for the success of the project.
    (ii) Emphasize that in meeting a need for increased space, the 
first priority is to expand the existing facility, the second priority 
is to find an existing building in the same area as the current 
facility, and the third option is to build on a new site that will be 
either owned or leased.
    (iii) Ask that a Postal Service presentation of the project be 
placed on the regular agenda of a public meeting or hearing. If no such 
meeting is planned within the next 60 days or the agenda of a planned 
meeting cannot accommodate the project, the Postal Service will 
schedule a public hearing concerning the project and will advertise the 
hearing in a local general circulation newspaper.
    (iv) Give the local officials a letter describing the intended 
    (2) Notify the lessor of the affected facility in writing.
    (3) Send an initial appropriate press release to local news media.
    (4) Except as provided herein, attend or conduct one or more public 
hearings to describe the project to the community, invite questions, 
solicit written comment, and describe the process by which community 
input will be considered. If it is known at the time that the existing 
facility is not able to be expanded or that expansion is impracticable, 
that fact will be disclosed and the project file documented as to the 
reasons expansion is not possible or practical. Exception: If 
circumstances prevent postal representatives from attending or 
conducting a public meeting or hearing on the planned project within a 
reasonable time, the Postal Service must distribute a notification card 
to all affected customers, seeking their comment or other feedback. In 
addition, if the decision is to distribute notification cards, the 
project file must document the circumstances that prevented postal 
representatives from conducting or attending a public hearing or 
meeting within a reasonable time; in no event shall a lack of public 
interest or objection constitute a qualifying circumstance.
    (5) Review comments and notify local officials of decision. After 
the date of the most recent public meeting or the date of distribution 
of notification cards, make a decision (e.g., relocation to another 
building, new construction, or expansion of the existing facility) that 
takes into account community input and is consistent with prudent 
business practices and postal objectives, and notify local officials in 
writing. Take no action on the decision for at least 15 days following 
notification of local officials.
    (6) Advertise for sites and existing buildings, in accordance with 
the decision.
    (d) New site or existing buildings--historic preservation. (1) It 
is the policy of the Postal Service, by virtue of Board of Governors 
Resolution No. 82-7, to comply with Section 106 of the general 
provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act, (16 U.S.C. 470 et 
seq.), Executive Order 13006, and, through it, Executive Order 12072. 
Therefore, when the decision is to relocate to another existing 
building, that building will be selected in accordance with Section 106 
of the National Historic Preservation Act and applicable provisions of 
the executive orders identified above.
    (2) When the decision is to advertise for sites and existing 
buildings, once such sites have been identified, advise local officials 
of all contending sites and with respect to all sites not selected, 
provide an explanation.
    (3) Once a site or existing building has been selected, notify 
local officials of the selection decision.
    (4) Take no final action to acquire or lease the new location for 
15 days.
    (e) Planning, zoning, building codes. It is the policy of the 
Postal Service to comply with local planning and zoning requirements 
and building codes to the maximum extent feasible consistent with 
postal needs and objectives. To promote a partnership with local 
officials and ensure conformance with local building codes, plans and 
drawings will be sent to appropriate building department or other 
officials for review. The Postal Service will give local public 
officials written notice of any timely, written objections or 
recommendations that it does not plan to adopt or implement.
    (f) Continuing communication. During construction, whether 
renovation or new construction, the postmaster will keep local 
officials and the community informed via letters and news releases. The 
postmaster and other postal officials will plan, conduct, and invite 
the community and local officials to any ``grand opening.''
Stanley F. Mires,
Chief Counsel, Legislative.
[FR Doc. 98-12064 Filed 5-6-98; 8:45 am]