Island cabin residents lose vote, but not hope

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – Hundreds of worried Midstaters packed a meeting Monday night in Dauphin County.

They own second homes on two islands on the Susquehanna River outside Middletown.

We told you last month the group of cabin owners, who formed the Lake Frederick Homeowners Association, has been working to keep their structures on lots they rent, even though the company they rent from wants them to leave.

Derek Krehling has a real connection to Shelley and Bashore islands.

“It’s kind of like home,” Krehling, spokesman for the association, said while walking around Shelley Island Monday afternoon. “It’s more home down here than it is at my house in Middletown.”

York Haven Power Company rents the land Krehling and hundreds of others have built on. Now, the company wants to stop leasing land.

Krehling wants to negotiate.

“With our good faith efforts that we’ve put forth in the last month, they should be willing to at least talk with us,” Krehling said.

Those efforts include cleanup days by island residents, the latest over the weekend. The group filled a dumpster and dump truck with trash from the river and islands.

The homeowners association has made other strides in the month it’s existed, including electing board members, raising $25,000 in donations, and hiring an attorney to represent their interests.

The controversy goes back to FEMA, which told Londonderry Township to start enforcing flood regulations. The township told York Haven and drew up a compliance plan.

In response, the company decided to end the rentals altogether.

In early March, township supervisors delayed a vote on the compliance plan after a flood of public comments from the part-time residents.

The board scheduled the vote for Monday.

“These folks have been on Shelley and Bashore island for generations, for decades,” said Dwight Yoder, an attorney representing the homeowners association, during the public comment period. “This is a way of life.”

At Monday’s meeting, hundreds asked supervisors to again delay a vote on the plan so they could negotiate with the power company.

“We are asking you to be the good guys,” one cabin owner said. “Give us 180 days.”

A township attorney pointed out that if supervisors didn’t approve the plan, the power company could kick them off the islands at the end of this month.

If they did approve it, cabin owners would have until the end of next summer. The later date was built into the compliance plan.

The plan passed unanimously. The room emptied quickly.

“So many of us have been out there for so many years, this has just caught us like a train being derailed,” said Diann Albright. “We feel a little defeated tonight.”

Now begins the 17 months to try to find an answer.

“I just wish that a solution can be found,” Carolyn Hammaker said.

“We’re always hopeful,” Yoder said.

York Haven Power Company up to this point has not publicly commented on the situation despite repeated requests.

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