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A Panhandle resident with a Lancaster address is exploring an effort to have her neighborhood and others incorporated into Indian Land’s 29707 ZIP code.
Jan Tacy lives in Walnut Creek, a neighborhood located off Jim Wilson Road near the state line.
Tacy and the other 68 homeowners in Walnut Creek have Lancaster addresses ending in a 29720 ZIP code. Most homes, and all nearby neighborhoods, such as Carolina Reserve on the north side of Jim Wilson Road and Belair farther west, have an Indian Land ZIP code.
The postal boundary also affects residents along Twelve Mile Creek Road, portions of Henry Harris Road, Six Mile Creek Road and Waxhaw Road, creating “pockets” of 29720 ZIP codes within the 29707 ZIP code.
Aside from separating those affected from the community with which they identify, Tacy said the current ZIP boundary makes for some truly absurd situations, ranging from confusion within census blocks to inefficiency.
“It’s kind of an oxymoron that the fire department here in Indian Land, on Six Mile Creek Road, has a Lancaster address if anyone wants to send them mail,” said Tacy, president of the Indian Land Fire Protection District Board. “When I was there last, they showed me a piece of paper that (someone) was trying to get sent to them and they missed it several times. Think of the mail they’ve not received.
“I’ve also spoken to the minister at Faith Presbyterian (on Six Mile Creek Road and U.S. 521). They’re 29707, and he said one time he wanted to send a letter to his neighbor across the road,” Tacy said. “He didn’t realize that it was 29720 and it kept coming back. Finally, he just gave up and walked it across.”
Tacy and others point out that the uneven ZIP code is more than just an inconvenience at times. Important letters never arrive, bills get bounced back and delivery companies can’t find addresses or won’t deliver at all.
Walnut Creek resident Joan Crawford said it wasn’t uncommon when she and her husband first moved to the area to have companies making deliveries balk at delivering to their home because they believed it was outside their delivery area in Lancaster proper.
Crawford said the existing situation also represents a duplication of service that requires two separate post office employees and two delivery trucks.
“Belair is down the street from us, and on the same side, so the mailman has to come from Fort Mill to deliver to them and goes up as far as our neighborhood and then has to turn around,” Crawford said. “And then you have the mailman from Lancaster who has to bypass into Fort Mill, and then go back into the Lancaster ZIP code to get to us.
“The whole thing is totally mixed up,” she said.
To get the ball rolling on the issue, Tacy contacted Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis.
Willis said he’s familiar with the ZIP code situation in the area. In fact, he said, at one point, residents on nearby Hancock Road, located off Waxhaw Highway south of Walnut Creek, had it even worse.
“I’m not sure if they ever got it straightened out or not, but from what I understand, some of those folks had a Waxhaw address,” Willis said. “Can you imagine the strange looks they would have gotten with a North Carolina address and a South Carolina driver’s license?
“With the post office, they’re simply looking at delivery, and borders and boundaries mean nothing to them,” he said. “They’re a federal agency and we have literally zero control over it.”
Willis said in an effort to help the residents, the county did the only thing it could do – it contacted U.S. House District 5 Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who had his staff get in touch with post office officials about the residents’ concerns.
U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Monica Robbs said the post office recognizes there are problems that sometime arise from overlapping ZIP codes.
In a response to increasing requests for ZIP code and place name changes, the postal service has developed a formal ZIP Code Boundary Review Process, she said, which starts with a change request from a municipality or community representative.
Robbs said when a written request is received, it is forwarded to the local district manager, who conducts an analysis of the cost and service implications of the change and determines whether or not it can be implemented.
Among the district manager’s considerations, she said, are stability in the ZIP code network, facility planning and postal operations.
She said a final determination, which may include an alternative solution, is generally provided within 60 days of the request, depending on the magnitude and/or the number of pending requests.
“If the request cannot be implemented, the manager will explain why,” Robbs said. “If the request is feasible, then the customers who would be affected are surveyed to determine if there is sufficient support to proceed with the change.”
Tacy said she has the proper forms to make the request and is trying to develop a formal case for the change centered on postal efficiency and cost savings.
Tacy said she is also looking for public support for the idea and suggestions for where the new boundary line should be at Hancock Road, Waxhaw Highway (S.C. 75) or somewhere else.
Tacy said though the ZIP code situation has long been on people’s minds in Indian Land, now is the time to act with Carolina Reserve under construction and plans for Walnut Creek to include as many as 2,000 homes, as well as a commercial park.
“Truth be told, we need our own post office (in Indian Land), but that ain’t going to happen,” Tacy said. “This is just a start. I don’t know what will become of it. I’m just asking the question and seeing if I can get some input on it.
“I know the post office has limited resources, and they may just say no. But you have to try and this is a good time – before Walnut Creek gets fully developed and more people move in,” she said. “If we don’t get this ZIP code thing straightened out pretty soon, it’s going to affect more and more people.”
To contact Tacy, e-mail email@example.com.
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151