“Who among us has not been disappointed with the Postal Service when our mail was not delivered? But leave it to the good people of Glennborough, a neighborhood located in Washtenaw County, Michigan, to bring a federal lawsuit challenging the successful delivery of their mail.”

These opening sentences in a recent decision from the federal Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit probably did not raise the hopes of the Glennborough Homeowners Association that they would at last prevail in a decades-old effort to change their zip code.

The Bouma Group’s website about the spacious subdivision off Plymouth Rd. describes it as “ANN ARBOR REAL ESTATE,” where children attend “ANN ARBOR SCHOOLS.” It mentions the lower Superior Township taxes. What it does not mention, perhaps not surprisingly, is that Glennborough shares its zip code, 48197, with Ypsilanti.

That has been a sore point ever since the 340-acre subdivision north of Plymouth Rd. was created in the 1990s. The developers sued the USPS in 1999, hoping to get assigned to an Ann Arbor zip code. That suit was resolved by a consent decree in which the post office agreed to deliver mail addressed to “Superior Township” or even “Ann Arbor.” But it did not agree to change the zip code.

In 2015 the homeowners association petitioned the post office to change the zip code to northeast Ann Arbor’s 48105. That request was denied. The homeowners appealed, and were denied again. A new petition the following year was also denied. Then, in September 2020, the homeowners filed their own federal lawsuit.

Federal district court judge Robert Cleland dismissed it. “Presumably, the relief Plaintiff seeks would involve Defendant withholding mail addressed to Ypsilanti, the city of Plaintiff’s zip code,” he wrote. “That is deeply counterintuitive. Plaintiff has not shown how a reduction in service would mark an improvement for Plaintiff’s residents or make Plaintiff whole in any way.”

The association appealed Judge Cleland’s decision to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. This time, their attorneys made it clear that the goal wasn’t to stop getting mail addressed to ‘Ypsilanti–it was to have an Ann Arbor zip code. But the appeal fared no better.

Judge Chad Readler–a U-M grad–wrote that “[i]f the alleged injury is the purported indignity of receiving a letter otherwise properly addressed save for an Ypsilanti notation, such a psychic injury falls well short of a concrete harm needed” to have standing to sue. “Likewise, the Association has failed to clearly allege (and it is difficult to imagine) that receipt of letters properly addressed save for an Ypsilanti notation could result in concrete economic harm to neighborhood residents.”

Even with the Ypsi zip code, Glennborough’s home values are thriving. The six homes that sold last year had a median price of $910,000–up more than $110,000 from 2020.

Calls & Letters, March 2022

“Plymouth Road seems to pose a geographical problem for this issue of the Observer,” Jacob Katz emailed after reading our February issue. An Up Front on hunting for Covid tests quoted a message on the Ann Arbor Townies Facebook page about finding them at a CVS “on Plymouth Road and Huron Parkway.” Katz pointed out that the pharmacy at that corner is a Rite Aid. “Maybe the CVS on Plymouth Road and Green Road was intended,” he suggested.

More significantly, an editorial error misplaced an entire subdivision: Our Inside Ann Arbor on Glennborough’s attempt to change its zip code from Ypsilanti to Ann Arbor described it as “north of Plymouth Rd.” Katz noted that it “is in fact south of Ford Road and extends down to Cherry Hill Road, which it, of course, is north of.”

Resident Ron Ueberschaer emailed to point out that Glennborough’s “current ZIP Code is 48198, not 48197. The main USPS Office for 48105 on Green Rd. is much closer than the Ypsi office. Other homes further away on Ford and Plymouth Roads use 48105. That is what the lawsuit is about, not ‘fear’ or undelivered mail.”     (end of article)