Future of historic Mifflin House still unclear

A photo of the historic Mifflin House in Hellam Township. A permit to demolish the house was denied by township officials on April 6. Photo courtesy of Randall Harris and Preservation Pennsylvania.

Those hoping to learn the fate of the Mifflin House in Hellam Township will have to wait another month.

During Tuesday night's packed township zoning hearing board meeting, the board delayed a decision on whether the property, which has ties to the Underground Railroad, should be razed.

Members of the public attend an appeal meeting at Hellam Township concerning the denial of a demolition permit for the Mifflin House Tuesday, June 27, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo


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 18-year-old land subdivision plans that state “existing farm complex to remain” on property, which includes the Mifflin House and several barns and sheds, located on Cool Springs Road in Hellam Township.

That plan was approved by township officials and submitted to the York County Recorder of Deeds in November 1998, making the plan a legally binding document, Vega said.

In May, Kinsley Equities II appealed the decision, and during Tuesday night's meeting, the company presented its case.

Mifflin House: Still no decision odemolition appeal


Kinsley: Tim Kinsley of Kinsley Equities II testified that when the subdivision plans for the properties were submitted, there was always an agreement that the Mifflin House would remain so that 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.

Tim Kinsley of Kinsley Equities addresses the Hellam Township Board of Supervisors during an appeal hearing for the denial of a demolition permit for the Mifflin House Tuesday, June 27, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo

He said that after he told township officials of his intention, they sent him a letter indicating the township would like to see the house preserved, but there was no obligation to do so.

Developer appeals decision to block Mifflin House demolition

Kinsley said he was "stunned" when he found out his demolition application was denied.

Township and response: Hellam Township solicitor Brad Leber argued that the case was "simple" and  "not even arguable."

"Words have meaning," he said regarding the "existing farm complex to remain" included in the plans.

About 10 of the nearly 70 people in attendance took to the microphone during public comment to voice their support for Vega's decision.

"We request members of the zoning hearing board affirm this denial," said Ken Stover, of the Wrightsville Historic Society.

Hellam Township zoning officer Rachel Vega, left, and township solicitor Brad Leber, provide details to the township supervisors concerning the denial of a demolition permit for the Mifflin House Tuesday, June 27, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo

Don Bair, a board member for Historic Wrightsville Inc., told the zoning hearing board that not only is the Mifflin House a source of local pride, but it's a symbol of the country's fight against the "evil institution of slavery."

"This building must remain," he said.

Just before the end of the meeting, the board went into executive session. When they returned, acting Chair Michael Rhoads said the board vote at the next meeting.

He said they would like to look at an exhibit presented by Dwight Yoder of the Kreutz Creek Valley Preservation Society before taking a vote. The exhibit, Yoder said, is an assessment report that shows the historical significance of the building. 

It was presented during Tuesday's proceedings, but not enough copies were available for the board.

Rhoads said the next meeting be July 24, and it will start with an executive session at 6:30 p.m. 

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.