Time running out for those leasing vacation lots on Dauphin County islands

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LONDONDERRY TWP., Pa. - For hundreds of people leasing vacation lots on Shelly and Bashore islands in Dauphin County, their decades of memories and fun times appear to be drawing to a close.

The compliance agreement reached in April 2016 between Londonderry Township and York Haven Power, which owns the land and offered the lots to fulfill federal regulatory mandates, states that those leasing the lots would vacate the islands by September 30.

The agreement was completed in order to comply with FEMA floodplain standards to bring the islands under compliance.

"I understand people may be unhappy right now, but the township is moving ahead with enforcement of its floodplain ordinance, not because it wants to be the bad guy, but because the township at this point doesn't have a choice," township supervisor Ron Kopp said.

The Lake Frederick Homeowners Association, which represents those who have the recreational cabins on the islands, says it has drafted an alternative plan that would bring the islands under compliance while allowing them to remain open.

"We met those concerns with a high-level concept plan, and we would like to continue working on this plan to make it more formal and make it through an approval process," said Derek Krehling, a homeowner on Shelly Island and the association's spokesperson.

When township supervisors approved the compliance agreement, it agreed to let the HOA come up with an alternative, as long as it met FEMA regulations, could be agreed upon by York Haven Power, and would not cost the township any money.

While Krehling argues the HOA has such a plan, township leaders do not see it that way, saying what they have seen lacks specifics.

"Island license representatives have never submitted an alternative compliance agreement to the township for review," said township solicitor Jim Diamond. "The township has reviewed very tentative concept ideas."

Krehling countered, saying the township has canceled multiple meetings between the stakeholders and the only actual meeting held, which was on August 2, only lasted 15 minutes.

The HOA says it has had positive conversations with Cube Hydro, the company that owns York Haven Power as of 2015, leading the group to believe it is more receptive to an alternative than York Haven executives were in the past.

It has partnered with the Social Enterprise Institute at Elizabethtown College, and in addition to raising more than $100,000 for plan development efforts, has attracted interest from outside investment.

"We don't want to invest that money if we don't have assurances that the township is going to continue to work with us," he said. "If people are being forced off the island at the end of September, the whole point of what we're fighting for is this community of people...is lost."