NJ identity crisis: Another town loses bid to get its own ZIP code
ROBBINSVILLE — The U.S. Postal Service has turned down local officials' request for the township to have its own ZIP code. But officials vow to appeal.
The Mercer County township has been trying to establish an identity over the past eight years after switching its name from Washington Township.
Township spokesman John Nalbone said mail for the township is processed through Hamilton and is stamped "Trenton, NJ 08691."
"None of our residents want to be Trenton. They want to be Robbinsville," Nalbone said.
Robbinsville is not the only town seeking a ZIP code change. North Plainfield has sought its own code because of confusion caused by sharing three ZIP codes with neighboring Plainfield, which also is in a different county. The borough last year lost an appeal for the second time in 10 years and is also hoping not to have to wait another 10 years to re-apply.
Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried submitted a written request to the U.S. Postal Service in April to consider the change along with a list of the addresses of taxpayers to which a survey could be sent. Fried was told a response rate of 80 percent was required.
But Fried believes the process was “a disgrace that was set up … to fail." Fried said they could not find any rule in the process about a response rate and believes it was an arbitrary number.
The surveys were sent out by the Postal Service just before Memorial Day with a deadline of June 10.
"The USPS said it mailed 5,263 surveys to Robbinsville Township and Windsor residents. The USPS claims only 2,807 total residents responded, or 51 percent. However, the actual percentage of responses based on the USPS’ own figures is 53.3 percent," Nalbone said.
“This is the exact opposite of transparency in government, and it’s exactly what people hate about government. It’s embarrassing, frankly. If the Postal Service didn’t want this measure to pass, for whatever reason, they should have just said that and not subjected our residents to this veritable dog-and-pony show."
Nalbone explained that because of the way property lines are drawn, some homeowners who think they are in Hamilton actually pay their taxes to Robbinsville but have their mailing address as Hightstown.
The lack of a uniform ZIP code also plays havoc with GPS coordinates, he said, "especially to the Matrix complex and Amazon and all those big warehouses."
Robbinsville vows to appeal the decision, according to Nalbone, who said Postal Service rules require a 10-year wait before the next try. Fried hopes to work with U.S. Rep. Chris Smith to reduce the waiting period to two years "because we really don't think we've got a fair shake here."
A spokesman for Sharon Rogers, district manager for the Postal Service's South Jersey District dd not return a call for comment Thursday.
The Postal Service in 1963 rolled out the five-digit ZIP, or zone improvement plan code, in order to streamline mail delivery through the right post offices. In the decades since, however, ZIP codes have become part and parcel to many communities' identities — a fact the Postal Service refuses to consider when asked to change a ZIP code.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com