Another appeal on Mifflin House decision
The future of the Mifflin House in Hellam Township is once again at the center of an appeal.
On Friday, Sept. 1, Kinsley Equities II filed an appeal with the court of common pleas against the decision by the township's zoning hearing board to uphold denying the company a demolition permit for the Mifflin House. The house has ties to the Underground Railroad.
Mifflin House: Kinsley Equities II had applied for a permit to demolish the building, but in April, zoning officer Rachel Vega denied the request.
She cited the 19-year-old land subdivision plans that state “existing farm complex to remain” on the property, located on Cool Springs Road in Hellam Township. The complex includes the Mifflin House and several barns and sheds.
Appeal: According to Kinsley's appeal, the decision to deny the demolition was based solely on original 1998 subdivision plans that state "existing farm complex to remain."
The words "to remain" were subsequently removed from later submitted plans, starting in 2000, according to the appeal.
The appeal states that the township contends Kinsley Equities II is to preserve the farmhouse at its own expense, which is "supported by none of the actions, correspondence or communications by any of the parties."
Messages left for Kinsley Equities II's attorney and the township solicitor seeking comment were not immediately returned.
Background: At the meeting in June, the zoning hearing board heard testimony from the township's solicitor, representatives from Kinsley Equities II and the public after Kinsley Equities II had appealed Vega's decision. After a nearly four-hour meeting, the board decided to postpone the vote on Vega's decision until July.
During the July meeting, acting chair Michael Rhoads said it was "troubling" that Kinsley Equities II never brought in eyewitness testimony, despite the fact that a lot of people in the area were involved in the initial planning process.
The board voted to uphold Vega's decision.
The appeal, however, states that Tim Kinsley, of Kinsley Equities II, was the only person involved in the process to offer testimony of the intention of all participants in the process.
Kinsley testified during the June meeting that when the subdivision plans for the properties were submitted, there was always an agreement that the Mifflin House would remain so the owners could continue farming.
Kinsley also contended that at the time the subdivision plans were approved in 1998 and during subsequent meetings, no one indicated the house had to be preserved.
He said that after he told township officials of his intention, they sent him a letter indicating that the township would like to see the house preserved but that doing so was not obligatory.
Kinsley said at the time he was "stunned" when he found out his demolition application had been denied.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.