Elkridge in 3rd push for own ZIP Citing area growth, petitioners also seek a local post office

November 15, 1993|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

Elkridge residents have tried twice before and failed. Now, they're hoping a third petition drive will land them their own ZIP code and post office.

In the latest attempt, members of the Elkridge Community Association are collecting signatures of neighbors and business owners who receive mail in the 21227 ZIP code, which includes parts of Baltimore and Baltimore County.

A postal official will discuss the issue at the Elkridge Community Association general meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in St. Augustine's Hall, 5976 Old Washington Road in Elkridge.

Residents predict the petition drive will succeed this time, saying the timing is right.

Elkridge is a growing community, they argue, and Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., which plans to build a regional headquarters and bottling plant in the area next year, will generate a lot of mail.

"I don't think we're at all discouraged by not getting a post office in the past," said Ray Miller, president of the community association. Mr. Miller said that growth in the area makes a more compelling case for Elkridge.

But the effort still faces significant hurdles.

According to the 1990 U.S. Census, more than 12,976 people live in Elkridge. But county officials discourage use of that figure because Elkridge has no clear boundaries.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service has no figures on how many people live in the area covered by the 21227 ZIP code, said Richard Rudez, district manager of customer services for the Postal Service, who will attend Thursday's meeting.

And he said the residents' petition would have no effect on whether Elkridge gets its own post office and ZIP code.

"We have a facility plan we have to deal with and a lot of issues," said Mr. Rudez.

Elkridge residents say sharing a ZIP code with other jurisdictions unfairly increases their car insurance rates and confuses drivers who don't know whether to deliver packages in Elkridge or Baltimore.

"[If] You don't spell out Howard County, they're going to be looking for you in Baltimore County or Baltimore City," said longtime resident Cordelia Hanson, who helped organize the petition drive.

Mr. Miller said he has paid up to 15 percent more for car insurance than he would have in other parts of the county because his ZIP code includes part of Baltimore City.

"Unless you specifically tell your insurance company, you can expect to pay higher premiums," Mr. Miller said.

The 21227 ZIP code is bounded on the north by the 3300 block of Benson Avenue in Baltimore, on the south by the 7000 block of Cherry Avenue in Howard County, on the west by Waterloo Road in Howard County, and on the east by the 3000 block of Indiana Avenue near the Baltimore-Baltimore County line.

Residents also say they're tired of driving up to 12 miles to the nearest post office, located in Baltimore County on Waelchli Avenue in Halethorpe.

But the Elkridge ZIP code boundaries won't change any time soon, said Mr. Rudez, adding that in establishing a new ZIP code the Postal Service considers population density and its own operational needs.

The mere fact that insurance companies may use ZIP codes to set rates is "not a reason for us to give [Elkridge residents] a separate and distinct ZIP code," he said.

As for a new post office, he said, the Postal Service would consider geography, the proximity of other postal services and the organization's expansion needs -- not petitions.

"We really don't have a process that requires petitions," he said.

"What [Elkridge residents] are doing is on their own. It's not a popularity vote or majority of opinion" that determines whether or not a new post office will be built, he said.

But Elkridge officials insist that their effort will make a difference.

"I think the post office needs to respond to a petition," Mr. Miller said. "If I call and ask for a new post office, I won't get anywhere. But if 5,000 people sign a petition asking for a post office, they have to respond."

The community association plans to collect signatures until Jan. 27 and then submit them to Mr. Rudez.

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