Preservationists have two years to save the Mifflin House
Preservation groups have two years to raise enough funds to keep developers from demolishing the Mifflin House, a historic site in Hellam Township with ties to the Underground Railroad.
Kinsley Properties agreed to a 24-month moratorium on developing 62 of 86 acres of land, giving preservationists an opportunity to purchase the property for conservation purposes.
The Hellam Township Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the deal at a Thursday, Feb. 21, meeting, starting the two year countdown.
The amount needed to buy back the property will be determined based on a pending appraisal and confidential negations among the parties, according to developers.
"This places preservation first for the community," said Tim Kinsley, president and CEO of Kinsley Properties.
The Mifflin House, 202 Cool Springs Road, sits on the 62 acres of land included in the moratorium agreement. If preservation groups fail to raise the necessary funds, Kinsley Properties may develop the land. Although, developers would have to come back to the township board for approval of new designs.
'Nervous for two years': Members of the public have opposed tearing down the Mifflin House in the past, and the zoning board denied Kinsley's demolition request in 2017.
On Thursday, Hellam Township board members said they thought the deal was fair and thanked Kinsley Properties for giving preservation groups a chance to buy the Mifflin House.
The Kreutz Creek Valley Preservation Society has been active in the campaign to save the Mifflin House. On behalf of the society, Katina Snyder said Thursday she appreciates the developer's deal — but she's still on edge.
"I'm going to be nervous for two years," Snyder said. "Hopefully it's impetus for people to open their checkbooks."
Preservation Pennsylvania designated the property at risk in 2017. Executive Director Mindy Crawford said in a statement that the two-year period to raise the funds is fair.
"We hope to be able to mark this resource preserved," Crawford said.
Once signed, the agreement brings to conclusion a plan 20 years in the making. Kinsley Properties obtained land development approvals from both Hellam Township and the borough of Wrightsville in November 1998.
There are about 153 acres of land zoned and approved for commercial and industrial development. The plan, along with the moratorium agreement approved Thursday, approves designs for the 86 acres of undeveloped land.
"As Kinsley Proprieties has continued to meet the growing needs of our customers while remaining committed to community priorities, this project has evolved," Kinsley said. "The redesign is to better accommodate the growing development needs of potential investors who support building the local tax base and bringing jobs to the region."
— Rebecca Klar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RebeccaKlar_.