This article was funded by LebTown donors as part of our Civic Impact Reporting Project.

The South Londonderry Board of Supervisors agreed to grant conditional use for the Rising Sun to demolish part of the adjacent historic structure following a public hearing.

Council chair Faith Bucks recused herself from the vote after a resident voiced concerns that Rising Sun owner Alan Funck’s $2,500 donation to her District 98 campaign would affect her position. Vice chairman Jack Custer and councilman William Bova voted to grant conditional use.

The Rising Sun expansion includes the preservation of a third of the historic structure in question for use in an outdoor bar/patio and the demolition of the remaining 28,000 square feet for additional parking.

Randy Wright of Hanover Engineering gestures to the Rising Sun in applicant exhibit 1, a site layout plan. The historic structure is highlighted in yellow and the proposed additional parking is shaded.

SLT Zoning Section 488 requires developers to obtain conditional use through the board of supervisors following a meeting with the South Londonderry Historical Commission or Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission.

The developer, Funck, met with the commission on Feb. 27.

Read More: S. Londonderry Historical Commission discusses Rising Sun expansion

Section 488 dictates that the board should deny conditional use if they determine that the structure “retains significant historic value and can be practically adapted to meet the needs of the applicant” or “retains significant historic value and can be preserved through some other practical means.”

Section 488 also says that conditional use should be approved if the structure “fails to retain significant historic value,” “cannot be practically adapted to meet the needs of the applicant,” or “cannot be preserved by any practical means.”

During the public hearing, Randy Wright of Hanover Engineering presented a project narrative (applicant exhibit 2) containing historical deeds and photos, as well as a letter from Beers & Hoffman Architecture. The letter states that aside from the limestone facade, there are no remaining elements of the structure that remain functional.

Applicant exhibit 4, a letter from Zug & Associates Structural Engineers, echoes the above, stating that it would be “financially difficult” to preserve the building.

Contractor of 28 years Dennis Kreider testified to the state of the historic structure.

Contractor Dennis Kreider, who is involved in the renovation, said the building would need to be gutted to be reused. He estimated that restructuring costs would total $160,000 to $180,000.

Four board exhibits and seven applicant exhibits were entered into the record. Peter Gluszko, architect and neighbor of the property, requested and was granted party status to enter exhibits.

Gluszko entered exhibits Gluszko 1 and 2, a rough plan of the Rising Sun development and handwritten notes.

He argued that while exhibit applicant 1, a site layout plan, estimates 150 occupants, Gluszko only estimates that number at 99, thus requiring less parking. He argued that Funck’s representatives overestimated parking needs.

Solicitor Patrick Armstrong said that this was not relevant to the historic nature of the structure.

Other members of the public spoke for or against the demolition.

Carol Hickey, architect with a specialty in historic preservation, said that while difficult, preservation of the property was possible.

J.V. Bennett of the Historical Society thanked the supervisors for referring developers to the Historical Commission and following the ordinance. He also asked that more restoration be considered and suggested a more thorough process in the future for historic structure demolition.

Shaun Nornhold, who lives adjacent to the Rising Sun, said the developers have been “pleasant to work with” and that the demolition “is going to do nothing but improve the area.”

Following the public hearing, Bucks said she was “appalled” by the process Funck went through to demolish the structure.

“I still am mystified by how a letter written in 2003 could cause so much discord on that property,” she said. “I think we need to be very careful with what we do with those things, because we pushed for that historical district.”

Read More: Fate of a pre-Civil War Campbelltown building by Rising Sun remains uncertain

“I believe the village of Campbelltown will quickly become a blighted community. I can’t imagine anyone who would want to come here and buy a property and have to go through what he just went through. I’m appalled by it.”

Bova echoed Bucks’ sentiment, and thanked Funck for his contributions to the community.

South Londonderry Township supervisors meet at 27 W. Market St. on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. The next meeting will be held May 9. These meetings are open to the public and do not require registration.

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Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article misstated the amount of Funck’s contribution to Buck’s campaign. We sincerely regret the error.

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Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.

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