Flying to work? Business owner seeks helipad in Susquehanna Township

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SUSQUEHANNA TWP., Pa. - Donald Donagher values his time.

So much so that the owner of Penn Credit, a national debt collection agency, wants Susquehanna Township's permission to build a helipad at the site of their proposed relocated business, so that he can fly from his Silver Spring Township, Cumberland County home to his office.

"I think it's six minutes and 39 seconds versus a 35 minute drive, but the thing of it is, it is really a fun thing to do, and I'm 64, so I need to be getting all the fun in that I can," Donagher said.

Donagher is looking to relocate Penn Credit from Harrisburg to Susquehanna Township in 2017. He has purchased one office building on Park Drive and has a verbal agreement in place to purchase a larger property on Commerce Drive a block away. His goal is to build the helipad at one of the facilities.

Township residents and Donagher's neighbors from Silver Spring Township, Cumberland County, made their case Thursday night to Susquehanna Township commissioners hoping they grant Donagher the approval to build the helipad.

"We're probably a mile down the road from Mr. Donagher's property, and we still cannot hear him take off when he's coming and going," Amanda Nidig, a neighbor, said. "We have no idea."

But some neighboring businesses and groups are not on board, concerned about property values and noise.

"We have meetings and classes at our educational facility and a helicopter coming in and out is not the kind of atmosphere we want for our members and guests," Robert Price, of the Homebuilders Association of Metro Harrisburg, said.

Donagher would not say whether a no vote would end his proposed relocation, other than to say other neighboring communities would jump at the chance to have Penn Credit relocate to their community if it meant approving a helipad.

"We're planning on adding 250 more jobs and we feel that the quality of the employee, the people in Susquehanna Township is going to be great for us," Donagher said.

The township only took public comment Thursday. It could render a decision at its next meeting in a few weeks.