Editor’s Note 12/1/16: The bill below passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday by a unanimous voice vote. Mr. Zeldin spoke in support of the video on the House floor. You can watch the video online here.
Congressman Lee Zeldin announced in a press conference in Flanders Tuesday that the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote today to approve a new, unique zip code for the hamlets of Flanders, Riverside, and Northampton, which currently share a zip code with neighboring Riverhead.
Mr. Zeldin, who was joined at the announcement at the David W. Crohan Community Center in Flanders by New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and New York State Senator Ken LaValle, said a vote is scheduled for today, Nov. 30, on H.R. 6303, new legislation introduced by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, which includes a section creating the new zip code.
A separate zip code came up repeatedly as a top priority of residents in a recent revitalization plan prepared by Renaissance Downtowns along with members of the Riverside community.
Community members have estimated there are at least 18 identical street names and 32 similar street names in the three Southampton hamlets and in Riverhead, which cause packages to be misdirected by the U.S. Postal Service.
Mr. Zeldin sent a letter to the US Postmaster General in 2015 asking for new zip codes for the three hamlets, but that request was denied.
“Throughout this process, I’ve been working closely with House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, whose committee has jurisdiction over the United States Postal Service, to get this problem fixed as quickly as possible,” said Mr. Zeldin in announcing the vote on Tuesday. “In September 2016, I brought Chairman Chaffetz to Flanders to meet with a group of community leaders from the impacted area to explain to the chairman firsthand about the importance of securing a new zip code for Flanders, Northampton and Riverside.”
Mr. Zeldin said the bill is “expected to pass,” and while it doesn’t require a Senate sponsor, “if a Senator chooses to introduce the same bill separately, that wouldn’t hurt.”
Mr. Chaffetz also included language creating the new zip code in the Postal Service Reform Act of 2016 (H.R. 5714), which passed out of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on July 12 and awaits further action by the house.
“For many years, residents, local elected officials, and community organizations have been aware of this issue and the problems it brings, but despite their previous efforts to resolve this matter, the issue still serves to be a burden on many of the residents, businesses, and organizations in this area of our Congressional District,” said Mr. Zeldin. “This has been a priority for them for many years, and it is an honor to be leading this effort in the House. We must advocate for the Senate to take immediate action on this bill in the remainder of this Congress, so that we can get this bill signed into law before the end of the year.”
“Obtaining a zip code for the Southampton hamlets of Flanders, Riverside and Northampton independent from the Town of Riverhead has been a top priority for our community for decades,” added Flanders, Riverside & Northampton Community Association President Ron Fisher. “Not only has Congressman Zeldin taken our request farther than any other elected official, he has done so with an unprecedented sense of urgency, leaving no stone unturned in his legislative quest to help our community. Words can’t express how grateful I am to Congressman Zeldin for not giving up and doing everything in his power to see a zip code created for us.”
“The assignment of these three new zip codes will help create a renewed sense of identity for the Flanders community, especially during a time in which so much effort is being put forth to revitalize and redevelop the area,” said State Assemblyman Fred Thiele.
“The people of Flanders, Riverside and Northampton have long awaited this moment,” added Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. “I want to congratulate Congressman Zeldin for delivering this unique gift to the community, just in time for the holidays.”