Hellam Twp. board to decide Mifflin House's fate

York Dispatch

After months of disputes between preservationists and a developer trying to demolish a Hellam Township building with ties to the Underground Railroad, the township's zoning board will settle the debate Tuesday.

At its last meeting June 27, the Hellam Township Zoning Hearing Board heard testimony from the company looking to develop the Cool Springs Road property and solicitor Brad Leber, who defended the township zoning officer's denial of Kinsley's application for a demolition permit in April.

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.

Zoning officials delayed a vote and said they would rule on Kinsley's appeal at its next meeting.

Michael Rhoads, acting chair of the zoning hearing board, said the meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, with board members meeting privately to look at an exhibit presented by Dwight Yoder of the Kreutz Creek Valley Preservation Society.

At the last meeting, Yoder said the exhibit is an assessment report that shows the historical significance of the Mifflin House.

The public portion of the meeting will begin at 7 p.m. after board members view the exhibit.

'Existing farm complex to remain': In May, Kinsley Equities II appealed zoning officer Rachel Vega's permit denial.

Vega blocked the developer's application after looking through land subdivision plans from 1998 that indicate the "existing farm complex" on the property should remain intact.

Tim Kinsley of Kinsley Equities II told the board in June he was "stunned" that the application was denied.

Kinsley said he told township officials shortly after the plans were approved 18 years ago about his intention to redevelop the property. In response, Kinsley said, officials sent a letter indicating the township would like to see the Mifflin House preserved, but Kinsley was under no obligation to do so.

Kinsley Equities has not submitted any land development plans, but preservationists expect the company to build more warehouses on the land.

Earlier this year, Ace Distributing moved its headquarters from York City to 100 Mifflin Drive, just behind the Mifflin House, while the Earle M. Jorgensen Co., North American Stainless and Pennsylvania Truck Centers Inc. also operate from warehouses within a quarter-mile of the Mifflin House.