For nearly 2 decades, dermatologist Robin Oshman had an office near Fortuna’s.
When Crate & Barrel displaced her, she set up a home office in the handsome Long Lots Road house she’d owned for 20 years.
She put a discreet sign in front. She got approval from the selectmen and the Architectural Review Board. “I met all the requirements,” she says.
But that was not good enough for the Zoning Board of Appeals. They ordered her to remove her little sign.
And then — because she remembered hearing somewhere that the town has no jurisdiction over mailboxes — she called the post office.
Are there any size requirements for a mailbox? she asked.
No, they said. It can be as big as you want.
Can you put information like your name, address, profession and phone number on it? she wondered.
Sure! the post office said.
What about shape?
It just has to be the right height for the mail carrier to reach, they replied.
Oh, and be sure to put a little orange flag on the side.
Dr. Oshman designed what looks like a little sentry house. Carpenter Al Williams built it out of wood.
It’s got black and white lettering — and a little orange flag. Here — take a look:
Dr. Oshman’s mailbox went up in January. Her patients — 250 of whom signed a petition to allow the old sign — love it.
So do her neighbors. Now her patients no longer pull into their driveways, wondering where her office is.
Public Works didn’t like it, though. Someone called, saying they had to remove her structure.
It’s a mailbox, she said. Not a “structure.”
Well, a mailbox has to be on a post, they told her.
It is, she said. There’s a post inside, holding it up.
She offered to saw off the bottom, to show them. They said that wasn’t necessary.
Then they said a mailbox had to be 8 inches back from the road.
Hah! Hers is 14.
Well, it’s on town property, they said. It can’t be there.
Dr. Oshman said they’d better remove every mailbox in town, because every one is on town property.
No one ever called back.
Funny, isn’t it: Everyone driving by now notices the mailbox of Dr. Robin Oshman, M.D. (101 Long Lots Road; Dermatology; 454-0743).
No one ever noticed the discreet little sign the ZBA made her take down.