locally owned since 1854

Londonderry Township seeks best outcome for all residents: Ron Kopp

Posted 10/24/17

As Londonderry Township supervisors, we work hard for our residents to provide critical, mandated services, while setting taxes at the lowest rate possible. 

We do this by taking a creative …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Londonderry Township seeks best outcome for all residents: Ron Kopp

This spring 2016 file photo shows a summer cabin on Shelly Island.
This spring 2016 file photo shows a summer cabin on Shelly Island.
Posted

As Londonderry Township supervisors, we work hard for our residents to provide critical, mandated services, while setting taxes at the lowest rate possible. 

We do this by taking a creative yet conservative approach to local government. Instead of seeking tax increases, the board uses a combination of fundraising, grants and partnerships to provide the community with fire equipment, as well as improvements to its parks, roads, bridges and infrastructure. In all, Londonderry has benefited from $4.6 million in grant funding since 2005. 

The township also believes in helping others, which is why the board has helped raise nearly $890,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society, the Lebanon VA hospital and our annual Fourth of July event. 

This is a volunteer board that does not have aspirations for higher office. We work hard and put the community first, which is exactly what we’re doing in the unfortunate case involving properties located on islands in the Susquehanna River. 

As with every issue, the township board of supervisors has a duty to do what is best for all residents, not just those with island properties. Enforcing floodplain ordinances is just such a case. 

That means decisions simply cannot be made in a vacuum. If that were the case, we would continue the status quo. But the Federal Emergency Management Agency has made it clear that we cannot. The township is required by FEMA to enforce its floodplain ordinance on the island properties or face severe consequences. 

In fact, if we fail to do so, FEMA no longer will allow township residents and businesses access to the National Flood Insurance Program. If that happens, township residents and businesses would not be eligible for flood insurance — even those that aren’t located on the islands. 

Federally backed flood insurance is vital to communities, like Londonderry Township, living along major waterways. Township residents have needed coverage as recently as 2011, after Tropical Storm Lee, when flood insurance claims were filed by township property owners as a result of the storm. Following Lee, access to federal relief funding allowed Londonderry to make immediate repairs to roads and bridges, without a significant tax increase. 

Ignoring FEMA’s directive would mean our residents would no longer be eligible to obtain mortgages from federally insured banks or any grants for structures in the floodplain (whether they have an island residence or not), as well as federal disaster assistance. Even worse, homeowners could lose their existing mortgages if they can no longer secure flood insurance. Tropical Storm Lee, and the recent catastrophic flooding in Texas, has shown us that these programming dollars are critical to communities like ours. 

Insurance payouts from Tropical Storm Lee, as well as the $13 million in flood insurance policies in effect, prompted FEMA to audit the compliance of the island properties and issue its directive to the township to enforce floodplain ordinances. 

The board certainly understands how this issue has upset people who love to spend time on the islands, some passing down their love from generation to generation — and we empathize. After all, we love the things that make our township so unique. But we must do what is right for all township residents and businesses, which stand to lose everything if floodplain insurance is lost. 

History has shown us that insurance and government disaster relief programs have saved our township and our residents from economic hardship and tax increases time and time again. Ignoring FEMA is not an option for any of us. We remain committed to considering alternatives that will satisfy FEMA’s requirements and protect the interests of all of the residents of our township, and we hope a solution can be found. 

Ron Kopp is chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Londonderry Township.