By Carly Szabo
Five numbers are what keep many Robbinsville citizens from getting their mail delivered and having visitors arrive safely. Officials say the lack of a unique zip code for Robbinsville has taken its toll on the town’s residents, and many are asking for a change.
Currently, Robbinsville residents use one of five zip codes—08501, 08520, 08561, 08690 and 08691—shared with surrounding areas, such as Trenton, Hamilton and West Windsor. Township officials say the lack of a distinct Robbinsville zip codecreates many delivery conflicts for its citizens. Duplicate street names add to this issue as well, causing confusion for many delivery personnel in the Robbinsville area.
But not having a unique zip code is more than just confusing for Robbinsville citizens. According to chief of staff Elizabeth Meyers at Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo’s office, the unresolved issue leaves many wondering where important packages are or why orders were never placed to begin with.
“We’ve heard stories where transactions weren’t completed because the order reads Robbinsville but the credit card information reads Trenton or Hamilton,” Meyers said.
And the problems don’t end there. Many Robbinsville residents find visitors getting lost on the way to their homes and businesses as GPS location services direct travelers to Hamilton, Hightstown and Trenton. Other citizens suffer from financial burdens because of Robbinsville’s lack of a zip code according to Robbinsville Township administrator Joy Tozzi.
“Complaints range from car and home owners insurance being higher because the companies will quote a lower rate thinking they are suburban Robbinsville residents but then the carrier says the zip code comes up as Trenton and therefore they get the higher rate for an urban area,” Tozzi said.
Robbinsville officials have been fighting for a unique zip code since 2008. According to Meyers and Tozzi, an original request was sent to the postal service at this time. However, the request was lost after changes in the postal service staff were made.
“New Jersey postal service used to be split into three districts,” says Ray Diautolo, Sr. APR of USPS Corporate Communications. “In 2008 the Central Jersey district was consolidated into the South Jersey district. Robbinsville may have petitioned for a zip code from the old district, causing their original request to get lost with the consolidation.”
In June 2014, DeAngelo’s office began working to resolve the issue and is now in the appeal stage of obtaining a zip code for Robbinsville.
“It is typically a long process, but we are remaining hopeful,” Meyers said. Diautolo says an appeal can take up to two months to review depending on the priority of the appeal. After an approved appeal, it takes approximately one year to implement the new approved zip code.
And Robbinsville citizens remain hopeful as well with an online petition for the cause started by DeAngelo’s office that grows daily. The change.org petition was started on May 15 and held 873 signatures as of July 16. Although support for the zip code change abounds, Robbinsville citizens will have to hold out hope for months to come as the post office works with the township to accommodate their needs.
“There will hopefully be an answer to our appeal at the end of June, and more steps to follow after that,” Meyers said.
Tozzi is familiar with the post office processes and knows firsthand that this particular process will be a long one.
“Since as long as I have worked in this department the zip code has been a big issue in Robbinsville. I have worked here since 2008,” Tozzi said. She said the post office has not been the easiest to work with, stating that each time the township would reach out to the post office, they couldn’t get anyone on the phone. As soon as contact was made, suddenly the contact would be moved to a different office or didn’t have that responsibility anymore. This went on for about a year before a letter came in 2013 telling the township the post office would send out a survey to Robbinsville residents about the zip code. The survey was never sent. Due to the consolidation of Central Jersey’s office with South Jersey’s office, it is possible that Robbinsville’s original request was lost because of these changes.
Finally, in March 2014 contact was made with the post office, though it was only to say that the post office needed much more information from Robbinsville in order to get the ball rolling on their zip code request. The information has since been sent to the post office and now has Robbinsville in the appeal stages of receiving a zip code.
Robbinsville has gained support outside of the town’s boundaries with U.S. Senator Cory Booker helping the township’s administrators make progress with the issue. In a letter to the United States Post Master General and Chief Executive Officer, Booker wrote, “Robbinsville is concerned that its steadily growing population and planned development will only compound the problems with existing delivery service. According to Census data, the township population increased by 33 percent between 2000 and 2010, and officials expect this trend to continue.”
With a steadily growing population and commercial development, Robbinsville citizens grow more and more concerned about the township’s existing delivery and travel issues.
“I strongly believe that Robbinsville’s existing delivery concerns, growing population, and commercial development meet the standards outlined by the USPS and merit a new, unique zip code,” Booker wrote.
While the ongoing battle continues, Robbinsville citizens must settle for living in limbo with no unique zip code to place them officially on the map.