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ELECTION 2019: Three Republicans vying for two seats on Londonderry Board of Supervisors

Posted 5/15/19

LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP

The two Republican incumbents on the Londonderry Board of Supervisors will face a challenge in the May 21 primary.

Anna J. Dale and Melvin R. Hershey are the incumbents. …

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ELECTION 2019: Three Republicans vying for two seats on Londonderry Board of Supervisors

Posted

The two Republican incumbents on the Londonderry Board of Supervisors will face a challenge in the May 21 primary.

Anna J. Dale and Melvin R. Hershey are the incumbents. Beth Graham, the former township office manager, also is running.

Because there are two seats up for grabs and no Democrats on the ballot, the top two vote-getters on Tuesday likely will win seats in November’s general election.

Graham did not respond to requests to answer the following questions from the Press & Journal.

Pennsylvania’s primary is Tuesday, May 21. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. In Pennsylvania primaries, you can only vote for candidates in the same political party under which you are registered.

Mel Hershey

I am a graduate of Lower Dauphin School District. I spent my career as a fully commissioned HVAC professional. I have been involved in Londonderry Township my entire life serving with the fire company, ambulance service, emergency management, zoning hearing board, and as a supervisor.

1. What steps do you support to keep Three Mile Island open, and what steps should the township take if it closes?

Answer: Firstly, this issue is not just about Three Mile Island. It is about the 16,000 jobs and $2 billion in GDP produced by the nuclear power industry in Pennsylvania. I am all about equity in business. I believe we need legislative action to ensure that all power-generating companies are playing on a level field. So legislators need to include and recognize the benefits of zero-carbon emissions from nuclear power and extend the same credits to nuclear power companies that are provided to other forms of carbon free emissions energy producers. Conversely, they could eliminate all credits given to all producers of power. That would also ensure that every power-generating company would be treated equally in the energy market. The point is that we need energy diversity in our portfolio. We need to reduce greenhouse gases and we need to protect our economy. The loss of the nuclear power industry would be economically devastating to our region and the state. The short answer is that I support a legislative change to treat every energy producer the same, and let them compete as such and protect our economy and the families of our community.

What should we do if TMI closes? A number of years ago, the current board of supervisors, and I am proud of this, married its strategic plan to its financial plan. We did this by creating a five-year plan with input from our team, and we update and analyze that plan every year during the annual budget process. This financial planning is what helped us absorb the news that Three Mile Island may be closing. We have been making adjustments to the plan each year. For example, we have some full-time vacant positions open that we chose to leave open so that we reduce our annual expenditures. We supplemented our current workforce with part-time human resources to help meet our service demands. So from the budgeting perspective, we have been diligent about being sure we can continue to operate at current levels should TMI close and still meet our operational requirements and we have done so by sound financial planning.

I believe we have to plan for the closure and replace the revenue by working hard to attract new businesses to the township, allow some managed growth and use these two items to increase the tax base in general, including the loss of revenue should TMI in fact, close. At the end of the day we need to have economic development in the township to ensure we are not in a similar situation in the future.

2. With two major housing developments potentially in the works, how would you ensure a balance of growth and development in Londonderry Township with a rural feel and open spaces?

Answer: By fully utilizing the traditional neighborhood design ordinance that we put in place a few years ago. One acre, one lot, in the previous ordinance is the definition of urban sprawl and it is exactly what we didn’t want. So we created a new ordinance to allow for higher density development along major road systems because we wanted to plan for where we wanted development, meet our legally mandated housing requirements and ensure that we could preserve the rural nature of our community. The TND ordinance has open space and recreational requirements that have to be met within the newly planned communities. These communities have to be served by public water and sewer, so by limiting where they could be located by ordinance we knew that would limit where water and sewer were located in the township. That allows us to limit growth to the exact areas where smart growth designers indicated it belongs. It is also the most cost-effective manner for the township to develop because it costs us as much to plow a mile of road, for example, whether there is one home or 10 homes on it, so this design allows us to manage growth and realize economies of scale when providing services.

This maximizes our tax base and keeps the majority of the township rural by providing for all types of housing within a single area. These types of developments have open space and recreational standards so that there is green space throughout. The areas where this type of development can occur are located where the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has indicated that we have sewer issues and that the township must provide for public sewer. So the developers are potential cost sharers in the township’s DEP mandates and that saves our residents money. 

It all goes back to planning ahead and being proactive in our approach to government. We have faced many complex issues during my tenure and the planning and professionalism of our team is what has made us successful.

3. What is the top thing you would like to see accomplished in Londonderry Township by the end of 2020?

Answer: I wish it could be the top things, as there is much I would like to accomplish. For me, economic development to build the tax base is very important. One thing we know that never ends is unfunded mandates from federal and state agencies. These are legal requirements that we have to implement but there is no funding provided to go with the mandate, and they get expensive fast. The on-lot septic pumping program from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, MS4 stormwater and Chesapeake Bay Standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and DEP are prime examples of unfunded mandates. We get requirements but no funding. So we need to grow our tax base to be able to meet those requirements while keeping our overall tax-per-homeowner as low as possible. We don’t want tax increases any more than anyone else, we live here and pay them, too. The key is to grow our tax base in a measured manner so we can meet the capital and service needs of the township for our residents and to do it in the most efficient manner.

Anna Dale

Anna Dale has a bachelor of science degree from the University of Maryland. She came to the region in 1973 for a job with Bender Associates & Architects in Camp Hill. She relocated to Londonderry Township in 1976 with her husband, and they are small business owners in the township.

1. What steps do you support to keep Three Mile Island open, and what steps should the township take if it closes?

Answer: Since the announcement two years ago, I became a key member of the Clean Jobs for Pennsylvania coalition taking an active leadership role with media interviews, talk shows and rallies in an effort to raise the alarm that this is more a global issue about the nuclear industry in Pennsylvania, not just Three Mile Island. I believe it’s appropriate to have a level playing field in our energy markets. There are consequences with every energy decision that is made. Given our governor’s emphasis on reducing carbon emissions, the nuclear industry should be recognized as a zero-carbon producer of electrical energy and be able to share in the credits offered. Conversely, if subsidies are the issues then perhaps all subsidies in the market, from all forms of power producers should be removed so that they all have competitive parity.

If TMI closes, we, as a board, have been planning for the potential impact to our community and the loss of revenue. Having developed the concept of a five-year budget strategy years ago, we’ve adjusted our current budget spending accordingly. We have left some full-time positions vacant and utilize part-time help to fill in the gaps. Additionally, we have asked our current full-time staff to each pick up some of those duties where possible to keep our operational costs in line with that budget. Meeting our service requirements and unfunded mandates is not easy, but as a cohesive team, we are committed to seeking grant funds when possible and dedicated to keeping our taxes low as possible.

2. With two major housing developments potentially in the works, how would you ensure a balance of growth and development in Londonderry Township with a rural feel and open spaces?

Answer: Pre-planning is the key. Several years ago, the board took on the task of investigating how the township could grow and maintain a vibrant rural township. We began with exploring the concept of smart growth called traditional neighborhood development, or TND. We wanted to ensure that we managed and directed growth where we wanted it and could utilize infrastructure avoiding urban sprawl. Working with our manager, consultants and developers, we identified areas we thought best suited for major development that are served by major road systems and interchanges. After multiple public hearings, we created a new ordinance for a “smart growth manner” that would be served by public sewer and water in exchange for higher density, mixed use of commercial and residential allowing for all types of housing within a single area. This type of development would allow our tax base to grow and have developments with open spaces, recreational standards and keep the majority of the township rural.

3. What is the top thing you would like to see accomplished in Londonderry Township by the end of 2020?

Answer: Currently the township needs to solidify the plan for wastewater that is mandated by the Department of Environmental Protection. We are on their radar for full implementation to what is referred to as our 537 plan. We are seeking to identify and have potential partners help share the costs so that it doesn’t fall solely on our residents. I would like to have a path forward and the right partnerships for sewer compliance clearly defined by the end of 2020.

Now that we have heard about the imminent closure of Three Mile Island, I thought it appropriate to write my thoughts on it as well.

As stated in your questions about the closure above, the issue before Pennsylvania is not just Three Mile Island. As I read through various media outlets comments, I am left with the opinion that many believe this legislation is about saving just TMI.

This is a much larger issue for the state than this one plant. If there is no consideration for zero carbon credit provided for the nuclear industry in the commonwealth, the remaining nuclear plants will continue to find it difficult to compete and be in jeopardy of eventual closure. This will continue to place Pennsylvania further behind in reducing carbon emissions.

As to the issue of subsidies, it seems that all sectors of energy product receive some sort of subsidies. In 2016, the oil and gas production industries nationally received on average $15 billion in fiscal support. Last year, natural gas companies like UGI had asked to add a surcharge of 1.5 percent to customers’ bill to subsidize the construction of more pipelines. As for solar, it’s hard to ascertain those figures to the taxpayer as credits and rebates go to the homeowner, but I’m sure there is a cost we don’t acknowledge. And lastly, there are unmentioned negative impacts of solar; we don’t hear the land that is taken up with the panels rather than being used for homes, businesses or agriculture, nor about the environmental impact of the construction of and the periodic replacement of those panels and the toxic materials that they are comprised of.