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Power company backs redevelopment plans for islands in Susquehanna River

Written by Teresa Boeckel/The York Daily Record | Sep 12, 2017 12:05 PM
susquehanna_river_islands.jpg

Derek Krehling, left, and Steve Costik stand on the porch of Costik's cottage on Shelley Island, located in the Susquehanna River. Those with summer homes have been told they must leave by 2017 to help comply with federal flood plain regulations. (Photo: Paul Kuehnel/York Daily Record)

But the power company says it does welcome residents to create plans to redevelop the islands.

(Undated) -- A power company that owns land on Shelley and Bashore islands says it is willing to work with seasonal residents, who have to move out later this month, on a redevelopment plan for the islands.

Residents who have seasonal leases with the York Haven Power Co. will have to leave their island retreats at the end of September as part of a compliance agreement reached last year between the power company and Londonderry Township.

The federal government has told the municipality it has to come into compliance with flood plain management regulations or face major implications.

While residents will have to remove or demolish their structures, the power company said in a media statement that it supports an effort by the residents to create a plan for redeveloping the islands. 

The residents are welcome to pursue redevelopment plans while they are removing or demolishing their summer homes, the statement says.

The islands are in the river between Goldsboro and York Haven. The township is in Dauphin County, which includes the river. Many who use the islands for summer retreats are from York County.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency wrote in a letter dated Aug. 31 that it would not support any change to the compliance agreement that would allow residents to continue using their summer retreats.

It further states that new development can occur on the island as long as the power company authorizes it and the township approves plans that meet the flood plain ordinance.

FEMA also issued a news release on Friday, saying it has no authority to negotiate, enforce or carry out the compliance agreement. But it supports the implementation of the agreement to address violations.

Derek Krehling, a spokesman for the Lake Frederick Homeowners Association, said it seems like the power company is willing to work with them.

"Basically, we want the township to cooperate moving forward," he said.

They would still like to push for a transitional use while working on the redevelopment plan, Krehling said. Perhaps they could be afforded limited use on the islands, such as during the day, or have new structures go up as old ones come down. They would have to seek permits through the township.

"We're open to different suggestions," he said. 

Some residents, including Michele Comp, who leases one of the seasonal sites, shared frustrations that they feel over the situation.

"We're getting different information from everyone we're talking to," she said.

Residents will have until Nov. 14 to remove or demolish their summer homes, the power company said in its statement. However, it is willing to work with the residents on a case-by-case basis if the deadline needs to be extended.

The media statements from FEMA and the power company came more than a week after the township and residents of the Lake Frederick Homeowners Association each held news conferences.

Township officials have said they are moving forward with coming into compliance with floodplain ordinances. The residents have said they want to stay on the islands and have been developing an alternative plan.

Generations of families have been going to the summer retreats for decades. Both the power company and FEMA acknowledged the value of these places to the residents.

"York Haven appreciates the concerns of the summer residents and understands the floodplain and other legal requirements have created a difficult and emotional situation for their community," the statement says.

"We support resident efforts to develop a plan for redeveloping the islands in a manner that complies with floodplain and other relevant laws."

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

Published in News, York

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