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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR Data is current as of April 15, 2014

Title 39: Postal Service


PART 241—ESTABLISHMENT CLASSIFICATION, AND DISCONTINUANCE


Contents
§241.1   Post offices.
§241.2   Stations and branches.
§241.3   Discontinuance of USPS-operated retail facilities.
§241.4   Expansion, relocation, and construction of post offices.

Authority: 39 U.S.C. 101, 401, 403, 404, 410, 1001.

§241.1   Post offices.

Post Offices are established and maintained at locations deemed necessary to ensure that regular and effective postal services are available to all customers within specified geographic boundaries. A Post Office may be operated or staffed by a postmaster or by another type of postal employee at the direction of the postmaster, including when the postmaster is not physically present. A Remotely Managed Post Office (RMPO) is a Post Office that offers part-time window service hours, is staffed by a Postal Service employee under the direction of a postmaster, and reports to an Administrative Post Office. A Part-Time Post Office (PTPO) is a Post Office that offers part-time window service hours, is staffed by a Postal Service employee, and reports to a district office. Unless otherwise specified, all references to “Post Office” include RMPOs and PTPOs.

[77 FR 46950, Aug. 7, 2012]

§241.2   Stations and branches.

(a) Description. (1) Stations are established within the corporate limits or boundary, and branches are established outside the corporate limits or boundary of the city, town, or village in which the main post office is located. Stations and branches may be designated by number, letter or name. As a general rule, branches are named.

(2) Stations and branches transact registry and money order business, sell postage supplies, and accept matter for mailing. Delivery service, post office boxes, and other services may be provided when directed by the postmaster.

(3) Stations and branches, except nonpersonnel rural stations and branches, are designated as independent when registered and other mail is received or dispatched without passing through the main office.

(b) Classification—(1) Classified. Operated by postal employees in quarters provided by the Federal Government.

(2) Contract. Operated under contract by persons who are not Federal Government employees. Persons operating contract stations and branches are independent contractors and neither the contractors nor any person employed by them to assist in the conduct of contract stations or branches shall be employees of the Federal Government for any purpose whatsoever.

(39 U.S.C. 401)

[36 FR 4764, Mar. 12, 1971]

§241.3   Discontinuance of USPS-operated retail facilities.

(a) Introduction—(1) Coverage. (i) This section establishes the rules governing the Postal Service's consideration of whether an existing retail Post Office, station, or branch should be discontinued. The rules cover any proposal to:

(A) Replace a USPS-operated Post Office, station, or branch with a contractor-operated retail facility;

(B) Combine a USPS-operated Post Office, station, or branch with another USPS-operated retail facility; or

(C) Discontinue a USPS-operated Post Office, station, or branch without providing a replacement facility.

(ii) The conversion of a Post Office into, or the replacement of a Post Office with, another type of USPS-operated retail facility is not a discontinuance action subject to this section. A change in the staffing of a Post Office such that it is staffed only part-time by a postmaster, or not staffed at all by a postmaster, but rather by another type of USPS employee, is not a discontinuance action subject to this section.

(iii) The regulations in this section are mandatory only with respect to discontinuance actions for which initial feasibility studies have been initiated on or after July 14, 2011. Unless otherwise provided by responsible personnel, the rules under §241.3 as in effect prior to July 14, 2011, shall apply to discontinuance actions for which initial feasibility studies have been initiated prior to July 14, 2011. Discontinuance actions pending as of December 1, 2011, that pertain to the conversion of a Post Office to another type of USPS-operated facility are no longer subject to these regulations.

(2) Definitions. As used in this section, the terms listed below are defined as follows:

(i) “USPS-operated retail facility” includes any Postal Service employee-operated Post Office, station, or branch, but does not include any station, branch, community Post Office, or other retail facility operated by a contractor.

(ii) “Contractor-operated retail facility” includes any station, branch, community Post Office, or other facility, including a private business, offering retail postal services that is operated by a contractor, and does not include any USPS-operated retail facility.

(iii) “Closing” means an action in which Post Office operations are permanently discontinued without providing a replacement facility in the community.

(iv) “Consolidation” means an action that converts a Postal Service-operated retail facility into a contractor-operated retail facility. The resulting contractor-operated retail facility reports to a Postal Service-operated retail facility.

(v) “Discontinuance” means either a closure or a consolidation.

(vi) A “Remotely Managed Post Office” (RMPO) is a Post Office that offers part-time window service hours, is staffed by a Postal Service employee at the direction of a postmaster, and reports to an Administrative Post Office. Unless otherwise specified, all references to “Post Office” include RMPOs. The classification of a Post Office as an RMPO is not a discontinuance action under this section.

(vii) A “Part-Time Post Office” (PTPO) is a Post Office that offers part-time window service hours, is staffed by a Postal Service employee, and reports to a district office. Unless otherwise specified, all references to “Post Office” include PTPOs. The classification of a Post Office as a PTPO is not a discontinuance action under this section.

(3) Requirements. A District Manager or the responsible Headquarters Vice President, or a designee of either, may initiate a feasibility study of a USPS-operated facility for possible discontinuance. Any decision to close or consolidate a USPS-operated retail facility may be effected only upon the consideration of certain factors. These include the effect on the community served; the effect on employees of the USPS-operated retail facility; compliance with government policy established by law that the Postal Service must provide a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas, communities, and small towns where Post Offices are not self-sustaining; the economic savings to the Postal Service; and any other factors the Postal Service determines necessary. In addition, certain mandatory procedures apply as follows:

(i) The public must be given 60 days' notice of a proposed action to enable the persons served by a USPS-operated retail facility to evaluate the proposal and provide comments.

(ii) After public comments are received and taken into account, any final determination to close or consolidate a USPS-operated retail facility must be made in writing and must include findings covering all the required considerations.

(iii) The written determination must be made available to persons served by the USPS-operated retail facility at least 60 days before the discontinuance takes effect.

(iv) Within the first 30 days after the written determination is made available, any person regularly served by a Post Office subject to discontinuance may appeal the decision to the Postal Regulatory Commission. Where persons regularly served by another type of USPS-operated retail facility subject to discontinuance file an appeal with the Postal Regulatory Commission, the General Counsel reserves the right to assert defenses, including the Commission's lack of jurisdiction over such appeals. For purposes of determining whether an appeal is filed within the 30-day period, receipt by the Commission is based on the postmark of the appeal, if sent through the mail, or on other appropriate documentation or indicia, if sent through another lawful delivery method.

(v) The Commission may only affirm the Postal Service determination or return the matter for further consideration but may not modify the determination.

(vi) The Commission is required to make any determination subject to 39 U.S.C. 404(d)(5) within the 120 days specified by statute.

(vii) The following table summarizes the notice and appeal periods defined by statute.

Public Notice of Proposal

60-day notice

Public Notice of Final Determination

30 days for filing any appeal; up to 120 days for appeal consideration and decisionWait at least 60 days from first day after posting final determination before closing or consolidating USPS-operated retail facility.

(4) Additional requirements. This section also includes:

(i) Rules to ensure that the community's identity as a postal address is preserved.

(ii) Rules for consideration of a proposed discontinuance and for its implementation, if approved. These rules are designed to ensure that the reasons leading to discontinuance of a particular USPS-operated retail facility are fully articulated and disclosed at a stage that enables customer participation to make a helpful contribution toward the final decision.

(5) Initial feasibility study. A district manager, the responsible Headquarters vice president, or a designee of either may initiate a feasibility study of a USPS-operated retail facility's potential discontinuance, in order to assist the district manager in determining whether to proceed with a written proposal to discontinue the facility.

(i) Permissible circumstances. The initial feasibility study may be based upon circumstances including, but not limited to, the following:

(A) A postmaster vacancy;

(B) Emergency suspension of the USPS-operated retail facility due to cancellation of a lease or rental agreement when no suitable alternate quarters are available in the community, a fire or natural disaster, irreparable damage when no suitable alternate quarters are available in the community, challenge to the sanctity of the mail, or similar reasons;

(C) Earned workload below the minimum established level for the lowest level RMPO;

(D) Insufficient customer demand, evidenced by declining or low volume, revenue, revenue units, local business activity, or local population trends;

(E) The availability of reasonable alternate access to postal services for the community served by the USPS-operated retail facility; or

(F) The incorporation of two communities into one or other special circumstances.

(ii) Impermissible circumstances. The following circumstances may not be used to justify initiation of an initial feasibility study:

(A) Any claim that the continued operation of a building without handicapped modifications is inconsistent with the Architectural Barriers Act (42 U.S.C. 4151 et seq.);

(B) The absence of running water or restroom facilities;

(C) Compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 651 et seq.); or

(D) In the absence of any circumstances identified in paragraph (a)(5)(i) of this section, the operation of a small Post Office at a deficit.

(iii) Notice to customers. Local management must provide notification and questionnaires to customers at the USPS-operated retail facility under study. Local management may determine whether notification is appropriate through media outlets. In addition, the following customers that receive delivery service from the USPS-operated retail facility must receive notification and questionnaires by mail:

(A) Post Office Box customers at the USPS-operated retail facility under study;

(B) Customers whose delivery carrier is stationed out of the USPS-operated retail facility under study;

(C) Customers in the delivery area of the same ZIP Code as the retail facility under study, regardless of whether the delivery carriers for those customers are stationed out of the retail facility under study or out of a nearby facility; and

(D) Customers whom the retail facility under study serves for allied delivery services such as mail pickup.

(iv) Initial feasibility study due to emergency suspension. Wherever possible when an initial feasibility study is to be initiated under §241.3(a)(5)(i)(B) (for example, when it is anticipated that a lease or rental agreement will be cancelled with no suitable alternate quarters available in the community), responsible personnel should initiate the initial feasibility study sufficiently in advance of the circumstance prompting the emergency suspension to allow a meaningful opportunity for public input to be taken into account. If public input cannot be sought sufficiently in advance of the end date of the lease or rental agreement, responsible personnel should endeavor, to the extent possible, to continue operation of the USPS-operated retail facility for the duration necessary to gather public input and make a more fully informed decision on whether to proceed with a discontinuance proposal. Customers formerly served by the suspended facility should receive notice under paragraph (a)(5)(iii) of this section, including by mail, to the same extent that they would have if the facility were not in suspended status at the time of the initial feasibility study, proposal, or final determination.

(b) Preservation of community address—(1) Policy. The Postal Service permits the use of a community's separate address to the extent practicable.

(2) ZIP Code assignment. The ZIP Code for each address formerly served from the discontinued USPS-operated retail facility should be kept, wherever practical. In some cases, the ZIP Code originally assigned to the discontinued USPS-operated retail facility may be changed if the responsible District Manager receives approval from his or her Vice President, Area Operations, before any proposal to discontinue the USPS-operated retail facility is posted.

(i) In a consolidation, the ZIP Code for the replacement contractor-operated retail facility is the ZIP Code originally assigned to the discontinued facility.

(ii) If the ZIP Code is changed and the parent or gaining USPS-operated retail facility covers several ZIP Codes, the ZIP Code must be that of the delivery area within which the facility is located.

(3) USPS-operated retail facility's city name in address. If all the delivery addresses using the city name of the USPS-operated retail facility being discontinued continue to use the same ZIP Code, customers may continue to use the discontinued facility's city name in their addresses, instead of that of the new delivering USPS-operated retail facility.

(4) Name of facility established by consolidation. If a USPS-operated retail facility is consolidated by establishing in its place a contractor-operated facility, the replacement unit can be given the same name of the facility that is replaced, if appropriate in light of the nature of the contract and level of service provided.

(c) Initial proposal—(1) In general. If a District Manager believes that the discontinuance of a USPS-operated retail facility within his or her responsibility may be warranted, the District Manager:

(i) Must use the standards and procedures in §241.3(c) and (d).

(ii) Must investigate the situation.

(iii) May propose the USPS-operated retail facility be discontinued.

(2) Consolidation. The proposed action may include a consolidation of USPS-operated retail facilities. A consolidation arises when a USPS-operated retail facility is replaced with a contractor-operated retail facility.

(3) Views of postmasters. Whether the discontinuance under consideration involves a consolidation or not, the District Manager must discuss the matter with the postmaster (or the officer in charge) of the USPS-operated retail facility considered for discontinuance, and with the postmaster of any other USPS-operated retail facility affected by the change. The District Manager should make sure that these officials are invited to submit written comments and suggestions as part of the record when the proposal is reviewed.

(4) Preparation of written proposal. The District Manager, or a designee, must gather and preserve for the record all documentation used to assess the proposed change. If the District Manager thinks the proposed action is warranted, he or she, or a designee, must prepare a document titled “Proposal to (Close) (Consolidate) the (Facility Name).” This document must describe, analyze, and justify in sufficient detail to Postal Service management and affected customers the proposed service change. The written proposal must address each of the following matters in separate sections:

(i) Responsiveness to community postal needs. It is the policy of the Government, as established by law, that the Postal Service will provide a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas, communities, and small towns where post offices are not self-sustaining. The proposal should:

(A) Contrast the services available before and after the proposed change;

(B) Describe how the changes respond to the postal needs of the affected customers; and

(C) Highlight particular aspects of customer service that might be less advantageous as well as more advantageous.

(ii) Effect on community. The proposal must include an analysis of the effect the proposed discontinuance might have on the community served, and discuss the application of the requirements in §241.3(b).

(iii) Effect on employees. The written proposal must summarize the possible effects of the change on postmasters and other employees of the USPS-operated retail facility considered for discontinuance.

(iv) Savings. The proposal must include an analysis of the economic savings to the Postal Service from the proposed action, including the cost or savings expected from each major factor contributing to the overall estimate.

(v) Other factors. The proposal should include an analysis of other factors that the District Manager determines are necessary for a complete evaluation of the proposed change, whether favorable or unfavorable.

(vi) Summary. The proposal must include a summary that explains why the proposed action is necessary, and assesses how the factors supporting the proposed change outweigh any negative factors. In taking competing considerations into account, the need to provide regular and effective service is paramount.

(vii) Notice. The proposal must include the following notices:

(A) Supporting materials. “Copies of all materials on which this proposal is based are available for public inspection at (Facility Name) during normal office hours.”

(B) Nature of posting. “This is a proposal. It is not a final determination to (close) (consolidate) this facility.”

(C) Posting of final determination. “If a final determination is made to close or consolidate this facility, after public comments on this proposal are received and taken into account, a notice of that final determination will be posted in this facility.”

(D) Appeal rights. “The final determination will contain instructions on how affected customers may appeal a decision to close or consolidate a post office to the Postal Regulatory Commission. Any such appeal must be received by the Commission within 30 days of the posting of the final determination.” The notice in this clause is provided when the USPS-operated retail facility under study is a post office. For purposes of this clause, the date of receipt by the Commission is based on the postmark of the appeal, if sent through the mail, or on other appropriate documentation or indicia, if sent through another lawful delivery method.

(d) Notice, public comment, and record—(1) Posting proposal and comment notice. A copy of the written proposal and a signed invitation for comments must be posted prominently, with additional copies to be given to customers upon request, in the following locations:

(i) The USPS-operated retail facility under study, unless service at the facility has been suspended;

(ii) The USPS-operated retail facility proposed to serve as the supervising facility;

(iii) Any USPS-operated retail facility likely to serve a significant number of customers of the USPS-operated retail facility under study; and

(iv) If service at the facility under study has been suspended, any USPS-operated retail facility providing alternative service for former customers of the facility under study.

(2) Contents of comment notice. The invitation for comments must:

(i) Ask interested persons to provide written comments within 60 days, to a stated address, offering specific opinions and information, favorable or unfavorable, on the potential effect of the proposed change on postal services and the community.

(ii) State that copies of the proposal with attached optional comment forms are available in the affected USPS-operated retail facilities.

(iii) Provide a name and telephone number to call for information.

(3) Other steps. In addition to providing notice and inviting comment, the District Manager must take any other steps necessary to ensure that the persons served by affected USPS-operated retail facilities understand the nature and implications of the proposed action. A community meeting must be held to provide outreach and gain public input after the proposal is posted, unless otherwise instructed by the responsible Headquarters Vice President or the applicable Vice President, Area Operations. Authorization to forgo a community meeting should issue only where exceptional circumstances make a community meeting infeasible, such as where the community no longer exists because of a natural disaster or because residents have moved elsewhere.

(i) If oral contacts develop views or information not previously documented, whether favorable or unfavorable to the proposal, the District Manager should encourage persons offering the views or information to provide written comments to preserve them for the record.

(ii) As a factor in making his or her decision, the District Manager may not rely on communications received from anyone unless submitted in writing for the record.

(4) Record. The District Manager must keep, as part of the record for consideration and review, all documentation gathered about the proposed change.

(i) The record must include all information that the District Manager considered, and the decision must stand on the record. No written information or views submitted by customers may be excluded.

(ii) The docket number assigned to the proposal must be the ZIP Code of the office proposed for closing or consolidation.

(iii) The record must include a chronological index in which each document contained is identified and numbered as filed.

(iv) As written communications are received in response to the public notice and invitation for comments, they are included in the record.

(v) A complete copy of the record must be available for public inspection during normal office hours at the USPS-operated retail facilities where the proposal was posted under paragraph (d)(1) of this section, beginning no later than the date on which notice is posted and extending through the posting period. When appropriate, certain personally identifiable information, such as individual names or residential addresses, may be redacted from the publicly accessible copy of the record.

(vi) Copies of documents in the record (except the proposal and comment form) are provided on request and on payment of fees as noted in chapter 4 of Handbook AS-353, Guide to Privacy, the Freedom of Information Act, and Records Management.

(e) Consideration of public comments and final local recommendation—(1) Analysis of comments. The District Manager or a designee must prepare an analysis of the public comments received for consideration and inclusion in the record. If possible, comments subsequently received should also be included in the analysis. The analysis should list and briefly describe each point favorable to the proposal and each point unfavorable to the proposal. The analysis should identify to the extent possible how many comments support each point listed.

(2) Re-evaluation of proposal. After completing the analysis, the District Manager must review the proposal and re-evaluate all the tentative conclusions previously made in light of additional customer information and views in the record.

(i) Discontinuance not warranted. If the District Manager decides against the proposed discontinuance, he or she must post, in the USPS-operated retail facilities where the proposal was posted under paragraph (d)(1) of this section, a notice stating that the proposed closing or consolidation is not warranted.

(ii) Discontinuance warranted. If the District Manager decides that the proposed discontinuance is justified, the appropriate sections of the proposal must be revised, taking into account the comments received from the public. After making necessary revisions, the District Manager must:

(A) Transmit the revised proposal and the entire record to the responsible Headquarters Vice President.

(B) Certify that all documents in the record are originals or true and correct copies.

(f) Postal Service decision.—(1) In general. The responsible Headquarters Vice President or a designee must review the proposal of the District Manager and decide on the merits of the proposal. This review and the decision must be based on and supported by the record developed by the District Manager. The responsible Headquarters Vice President can instruct the District Manager to provide more information to supplement the record. Each instruction and the response must be added to the record. The decision on the proposal of the District Manager, which must also be added to the record, may approve or disapprove the proposal, or return it for further action as set forth in this paragraph (f).

(2) Approval. The responsible Headquarters Vice President or a designee may approve the proposed discontinuance, with or without further revisions. If approved without further revision, the term “Final Determination” is substituted for “Proposal” in the title. A copy of the Final Determination must be provided to the District Manager. The Final Determination constitutes the Postal Service determination for the purposes of 39 U.S.C. 404(d).

(i) Supporting materials. The Final Determination must include the following notice: “Copies of all materials on which this Final Determination is based are available for public inspection at the (Facility Name) during normal office hours.”

(ii) Appeal rights. If the USPS-operated retail facility subject to discontinuance is a post office, the Final Determination must include the following notice: “Pursuant to Public Law 94-421 (1976), this Final Determination to (close) (consolidate) the (Facility Name) may be appealed by any person served by that office to the Postal Regulatory Commission, 901 New York Avenue, NW., Suite 200, Washington, DC 20268-0001. Any appeal must be received by the Commission within 30 days of the first day this Final Determination was posted. If an appeal is filed, copies of appeal documents prepared by the Postal Regulatory Commission, or the parties to the appeal, must be made available for public inspection at the (Facility Name) during normal office hours.”

(3) Disapproval. The responsible Headquarters Vice President or a designee may disapprove the proposed discontinuance and return it and the record to the District Manager with written reasons for disapproval. The District Manager or a designee must post, in each affected USPS-operated retail facility where the proposal was posted under paragraph (d)(1) of this section, a notice that the proposed closing or consolidation has been determined to be unwarranted.

(4) Return for further action. The responsible Headquarters Vice President or a designee may return the proposal of the District Manager with written instructions to give additional consideration to matters in the record, or to obtain additional information. Such instructions must be placed in the record.

(5) Public file. Copies of each Final Determination and each disapproval of a proposal by the responsible Headquarters Vice President must be placed on file in the Postal Service Headquarters library.

(g) Implementation of final determination—(1) Notice of final determination to discontinue USPS-operated retail facility. The District Manager must:

(i) Provide notice of the Final Determination by posting a copy prominently in the USPS-operated retail facilities in each affected USPS-operated retail facilities where the proposal was posted under paragraph (d)(1) of this section, including the USPS-operated retail facilities likely to be serving the affected customers. The date of posting must be noted on the first page of the posted copy as follows: “Date of posting.”

(ii) Ensure that a copy of the completed record is available for public inspection during normal business hours at each USPS-operated retail facility where the Final Determination is posted for 30 days from the posting date.

(iii) Provide copies of documents in the record on request and payment of fees as noted in chapter 4 of Handbook AS-353, Guide to Privacy, the Freedom of Information Act, and Records Management.

(2) Implementation of determinations not appealed. If no appeal is filed, the official closing date of the office must be published in the Postal Bulletin and effective, at the earliest, 60 days after the first day that Final Determination was posted. A District Manager may request a different date for official discontinuance in the Retail Change Announcement document submitted to the responsible Headquarters Vice President or a designee. However, the USPS-operated retail facility may not be discontinued sooner than 60 days after the first day of the posting of the notice required by paragraph (g)(1) of this section.

(3) Actions during appeal—(i) Implementation of discontinuance. If an appeal is filed, only the responsible Headquarters Vice President may direct a discontinuance before disposition of the appeal. However, the USPS-operated retail facility may not be permanently discontinued sooner than 60 days after the first day of the posting of the notice required by paragraph (g)(1) of this section.

(ii) Display of appeal documents. The Office of General Counsel must provide the District Manager with copies of all pleadings, notices, orders, briefs, and opinions filed in the appeal proceeding.

(A) The District Manager must ensure that copies of all these documents are prominently displayed and available for public inspection in the USPS-operated retail facilities where the Final Determination was posted under paragraph (g)(1)(i) of this section. If the operation of that USPS-operated retail facility has been suspended, the District Manager must ensure that copies are displayed in the USPS-operated retail facilities likely to be serving the affected customers.

(B) All documents except the Postal Regulatory Commission's final order and opinion must be displayed until the final order and opinion are issued. The final order and opinion must be displayed at the USPS-operated retail facility to be discontinued for 30 days or until the effective date of the discontinuance, whichever is earlier. The final order and opinion must be displayed for 30 days in all other USPS-operated retail facilities where the Final Determination was posted under paragraph (g)(1)(i) of this section.

(4) Actions following appeal decision —(i) Determination affirmed. If the Commission dismisses the appeal or affirms the Postal Service's determination, the official closing date of the office must be published in the Postal Bulletin, effective anytime after the Commission renders its opinion, if not previously implemented under §241.3(g)(3)(i). However, the USPS-operated retail facility may not be discontinued sooner than 60 days after the first day of the posting of the notice required under §241.3(g)(1).

(ii) Determination returned for further consideration. If the Commission returns the matter for further consideration, the responsible Headquarters Vice President must direct that either:

(A) Notice be provided under paragraph (f)(3) of this section that the proposed discontinuance is determined not to be warranted or

(B) The matter be returned to an appropriate stage under this section for further consideration following such instructions as the responsible Headquarters Vice President may provide.

[76 FR 41420, July 14, 2011; 76 FR 43898, July 22, 2011, as amended at 76 FR 66187, Oct. 26, 2011; 77 FR 46950, Aug. 7, 2012]

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

(a) Application. (1) This section applies when the USPS contemplates any one of the following projects with respect to a customer service facility: expansion, relocation to another existing building, or new construction, except when the project is to meet an emergency requirement or for temporary use. Emergency situations include, but are not limited to, earthquakes, floods, fire, lease terminations, safety factors, environmental causes, or any other actions that would force an immediate relocation from an existing facility. Temporary relocation of space is used for, but not limited to, holidays, special events, or for overflow business. Use of emergency and temporary space will be limited to 180 days in duration. Any additional incremental time periods of up to 180 days each must be approved by the Vice President, Facilities.

(2) This section does not apply when the project under consideration is limited to repair and alterations, such as—

(i) Painting;

(ii) Repairs;

(iii) Replacement or upgrade of structural or functional elements of a postal building or of its equipment;

(iv) Paving, striping, or other repair of parking areas;

(v) Landscaping.

(b) Purpose. The purpose of the procedures required by this section is to assure increased opportunities for members of the communities who may be affected by certain USPS 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 that is owned or leased.

(c) Expansion, relocation, new construction. When a need is identified that will require the expansion, relocation, or new construction of a customer service facility, postal representatives responsible for the project will take the following steps in accordance with the time schedule shown:

(1) Personally visit one or more of the highest ranking local public officials (generally individuals holding elective office). During the visit, the postal representatives will—

(i) Identify the need and fully describe the project that is under consideration to meet it, 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; all within the downtown area, if possible.

(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 USPS will schedule its own public hearing concerning the project, and will advertise the meeting or hearing in a local general circulation newspaper.

(iv) Give the local officials a letter describing the intended project.

(2) Notify the lessor of the affected facility of the project, in writing.

(3) Send an initial news release to local communications media.

(4)(i) Post in the public lobby of the affected post offices a copy of the letter given to local officials, or the news release, or, space permitting, both. If such information is available at the time, include in the posting a public notice of the date, time, and location of a public meeting or hearing at least 7 days prior to the meeting or hearing.

(ii) Except as provided in this paragraph, 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 believed at the time that the existing facility is not able to be expanded or that expansion is impracticable, disclose that fact and the reasons supporting that belief. If, during the public meeting or hearing process, a new development should occur to allow for an expansion of the existing facility, the Postal Service will make a good faith effort in pursuing this alternative. Under exceptional circumstances that would prevent postal representatives from attending a public meeting or conducting a postal hearing on the planned project within a reasonable time, and subject to approval of the Vice President, Facilities, the Postal Service may distribute a notification card to all affected customers, seeking their comments or other feedback. An example of exceptional circumstances would be a project in a sparsely populated area remote from the seat of local government or any forum where a postal conducted meeting could be held.

(iii) At any public meeting or hearing, advise local officials and the community of their appeal rights and the process by which an appeal can be made. Information provided must include time limitations and an address for the appeal.

(5) Review comments and notify local officials of decision. Not less than 15 days after the date of the most recent public meeting, or after receipt of notification cards, make a decision that takes into account community input and is consistent with postal objectives (e.g., expansion, relocation to another building, or construction of a new owned or leased facility), and notify local officials in writing. This notification must include information on the availability and terms of review under paragraph (c)(6) of this section. At the same time, post a copy of the notification letter in the local post office for the community. Take no action on the decision for at least 30 days following notification of local officials and the community.

(6) Within the time period identified in paragraph (c)(5) of this section, any person may request in writing that the decision be reviewed by the Vice President, Facilities, at Postal Service Headquarters. No particular format is required for requesting review, but the request must be in writing and identify the post office or location affected; and should identify the decision objected to, and state the reasons for the objection. The Vice President, Facilities, will obtain the views of the decision maker, review relevant parts of the project file, and if necessary request more information from the appellant. Upon review of the facts, the Vice President, or a representative, will issue a written determination, if possible, within 15 days. In no event will the Postal Service take action on the decision being reviewed until 15 days following issuance of the final review determination. If the determination on review is to set aside the decision, the project process will return to the public hearing stage of paragraph (c)(4) of this section.

(7) Advertise for sites and existing buildings, in accordance with existing postal procedures.

(d) Discontinuance of post offices; 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 12072, and Executive Order 13006. Therefore, any facility project that will have an effect on cultural resources will be undertaken in accordance with that policy.

(2) Any action involving the closing or other discontinuance of a post office shall be undertaken only in accordance with 39 U.S.C. 404(b) and 39 CFR 243.1. In the event a facility action is subject to both this section, and either the NHPA or the post office discontinuance requirements, all comment periods and other public participation matters shall be governed by those statutes.

(e) Site selection. (1) When the decision is to advertise for sites and existing buildings, and after such sites have been identified, advise local officials in writing of all contending sites, and with respect to all sites not selected, provide an explanation. This notice will advise local officials, and the community, that no decision to select a site will be made for a minimum of 30 days, and that comments or discussions of all sites are solicited. Post a copy of this letter in the lobby of the affected post office for public notice.

(2) Once a specific site is then selected, notify local officials in writing of the selection decision.

(3) Take no final action to acquire or lease the selected site for 30 days following the notification in paragraph (e)(2) of this section.

(f) Planning, zoning, building codes. In carrying out customer service facilities projects, it is the policy of the Postal Service to comply with local planning and zoning requirements and building codes consistent with prudent business practices and unique postal requirements. In order to promote a partnership with local officials and assure conformance with local building codes, plans and drawings will be sent to the appropriate building department or other officials for review. Where payment of fees is normally required of private entities, the Postal Service will pay a reasonable fee for the 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.

(g) Continuing communication. During construction, whether renovation or new construction, the postmaster should keep local officials and the community informed via letters and news releases. The postmaster and other postal officials should plan, conduct and invite the community and local officials to any “grand opening”, as appropriate.

[63 FR 46656, Sept. 2, 1998]



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