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Homeowners group wants to buy islands from York Haven Power

Derek SlidePhoto by Eric Wise - Derek Krehling visits Shelley Island in the Susquehanna River.

 

Lawyers representing the Lake Frederick Homeowners Association have contacted representatives of York Haven Power Co. about purchasing two Susquehanna River islands, an association representative said. 

Association leaders will discuss their plans with Londonderry Township supervisors during the Sept. 6 meeting if the township grants the request to be placed on the agenda. Calls to Jim Diamond of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, one of the township’s solicitors, were not returned about whether the township would consider it.

The association would like to purchase Beshore Island and York Haven’s properties on Shelley Island, which includes the farmland in the center of the island and the 178 recreational lots that encircle most of the island, said Derek Krehling, president of the association. Bare’s Tip at the southern end of Shelley Island is owned by Rick Krehling, who operates Rick’s Campground and Marina in Goldsboro, York County. Rick Krehling is Derek’s uncle.

The group is not at a point where it has established a price for which it would buy the islands.

“They didn’t say no, but they didn’t say yes, either,” Derek Krehling said of York Haven Power. 

“So far none of the parties involved have said no. However, it is going to be an uphill battle with various regulatory bodies,” said Joshua Thompson, business manager of the association. “We will be working to take our own inventory of the island properties, prepare elevation reports and develop additional plans to achieve the compliance needed.”  

The association was formed hastily in March, when Londonderry Township announced a proposed compliance agreement with York Haven that would allow the homeowners who lease properties on the two islands to use the properties through the end of the summer in 2017. 

They would then have until November 2017 to remove their homes and other possessions, returning the properties to a natural state. 

Since that time, the association’s attorneys have drafted a business plan for them to buy the island and get properties in compliance with the township codes. 

“Our association has been hard at work on a business plan to operate the island,” Thompson said.  

Homes on the islands exhibit “widespread noncompliance” with the township’s floodplain ordinance, according to a letter from Jeff Burkhart, township zoning officer, to York Haven officials from earlier this year. 

Londonderry Township supervisors gave the homeowners a one-month reprieve in March, but they approved the agreement in April. 

York Haven’s management of the island has not allowed cabin owners to undertake projects to renovate cabins they way they would like, which has exacerbated the noncompliance issues, Krehling said. 

At the same time, the township spent about 30 years ignoring its own floodplain development ordinance until July 2014, when township officials held a meeting outlining the requirements of compliance. 

Steve Letavic, the township manager, urged the supervisors to approve the agreement with York Haven as a first step in getting into compliance because FEMA officials threatened to eliminate federal government backed flood insurance for properties within the township and prevent federal disaster assistance grants to the township.

In April, York Haven officials told the homeowners they were not free to negotiate until the threat of enforcement was removed by the township.  

In May, upon questioning from the island homeowners, the township officials said the homeowners are free to negotiate their own agreement with York Haven, as long as compliance will be achieved. 

Thompson said he hopes that the association’s proposal will be seriously considered. 

“We are dependent on the cooperation from Londonderry Township, FEMA, York Haven and other entities to make this work,” Thompson said. “We hope they will be amenable to working with us for the benefit of the area as well as our community.” 

Diamond has said the township has no power to force York Haven, as the landowner, to continue recreational leases on its Shelley and Beech Island properties. 

If the homeowners association bought the island properties, it would be able to pool its resources to get homes into compliance, Krehling said. Homes that predate the 1980 adoption of the floodplain ordinance are exempt from its regulations, providing that the home has not been improved by more than 50 percent of its value, or it has not sustained damage in a flood of 50 percent, including cumulative losses that exceed 50 percent.

The homeowners association estimates that about 90 percent of the homes on Shelley Island predate the floodplain ordinance. Many of the homes were built or transported to Shelley Island in the years following the 1972 flood, especially from 1974 to 1978, Thompson said. The elevation of the island varies to some degree, with higher areas that have not been flooded since 1972, Krehling said.

Londonderry Township will enforce the floodplain development ordinance on all the islands, affecting about 238 other cabins on Hill, Poplar and Beech islands, but enforcement has not yet begun, according to Diamond. 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 August 2016 16:18

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Lower Swatara makes 4 key hires

Lower Swatara commissioners voted Aug. 17 to hire a public safety director, a construction code official and two police officers.

Frank Williamson, who retired earlier this year as public safety director and police chief in Lower Allen Township, Cumberland County, will become the township’s public safety officer Aug. 29. He will oversee the police department, fire protection and coordination with emergency management agencies, said Tom Mehaffie, president of the commissioners. Former Police Chief Richard Brandt retired July 1.

“I have been retired for about five months and was looking for a second career,” Williamson said. 

His retirement from Lower Allen Township had been planned three years prior when he entered a deferred retirement program, setting up his retirement at the close of 2015, but continued into 2016 at the request of the township.

Williamson said he wants to establish “open communication between all those agencies,” including the police, fire department and EMS agencies. His first goal is to establish improved coordination and cooperation as they respond together.

Jact DelaCruz has been named the township’s construction code official. Alan Knoche retired earlier this year as the codes official.

The commissioners voted to extend conditional offers to Ryan Lesko and Artemus Tuisl as police officers. Four candidates were interviewed for the openings. The new officers have additional tests to complete before the offers become official, according to Anne Shambaugh, township manager. 

Two police officers left Lower Swatara in 2015, and a third resigned in May 2016, when the commissioners voted to begin the hiring process. 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 August 2016 15:41

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Man’s death called sign of drug problem that keeps growing

The July death of a Lower Swatara man is the latest example of the growing problem of heroin abuse in the area, law enforcement officials told the Press And Journal.

Police responded to the first block of Nissley Drive at 9:14 a.m. July 24 to find Shane Feathers had overdosed at his home. 

Feathers appeared to have died from a drug overdose by heroin, said police Detective Robert Appleby. The case will be investigated as a “death by delivery,” which is punishable by a jail sentence of 40 years, Appleby said. 

There is a suspect in the case.

The investigation is on hold because Appleby has been busy since July 31 investigating the drowning death of a 3-year-old girl. 

Heroin problems plague Dauphin County communities, and Lower Swatara Township police have seen it firsthand. After having just four overdose calls in the township in 2014, police responded to seven in 2015 and 12 this year, Appleby said. 

“I have seen more heroin deaths in the last year than ever before,” Appleby said.

The number of drug overdose deaths has risen in Dauphin County, according to information from the coroner’s office. After annual drug overdose deaths (among accidental deaths) hovered around 40 a year from 2012-2014, the coroner reported 71 drug overdose deaths in 2015. 

“It’s the worst I have seen it ever here,” said Stephen Zawisky, a senior deputy district attorney who heads Dauphin County’s drug task force.

The State Police and many local police departments have started carrying Narcan or naxolone, a drug that reverses the effect of an overdose. Lower Swatara Township commissioners approved the use of the reversal drug by township employees in May. 

Middletown police do not carry the drug.

The county began tracking reversals of opioid overdose using Narcan in the fall of 2015, when three reversals were reported. From January through June 2016, 24 overdoses were reversed. Another eight reversals have been reported since July. However, not all agencies have sent reports yet. 

“I can only say I see people who start with pills and then transition to heroin,” Zawisky said. “I had a girl in my office yesterday who was in college, started on oxycontin and moved to heroin. (Her) life is now a mess.” 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 August 2016 14:46

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Police regionalization meeting: contracting for services top option

Setting up a contract for police services was the clear favorite among options discussed during an Aug. 12 meeting in Harrisburg about the future of the police for Lower Swatara Township and Middletown, according to a Dauphin County official’s take on the meeting. 

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 August 2016 14:44

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Have your say about Mariner East 2 pipeline on Aug. 16

A public hearing to receive input regarding the proposed Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline will be held in the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg on Tuesday, Aug. 16, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

The hearing is being held by the state Department of Environmental Protection, which is reviewing applications submitted by Sunoco for permits required for the pipeline.

The pipeline is a proposed expansion of the existing Sunoco Mariner East pipeline system. Sunoco has upgraded its Mariner East I pipeline to transport natural gas liquids from Ohio and the Pittsburgh area to Sunoco’s Marcus Hook Facility in Delaware County.

Most of the new pipeline would follow the same corridor as Mariner East I and go through 17 counties in the southern part of the state.

The new pipeline would slice through parts of Middletown, Lower Swatara Township, Londonderry Township, and Highspire. More detailed information about the route and permits sought in Dauphin County can be found by going to the DEP website.

People wishing to testify at the Aug. 16 hearing are asked to register in advance by contacting John Repetz, community relations coordinator, at 717-705-4904 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

You can send written testimony via email or by mailing comments to Scott Williamson, program manager, Waterways and Wetlands, 909 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg 17110, or via the web at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Written comments will be accepted until Aug. 24.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 August 2016 15:20

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