POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The Senate passed a bill that would finally put a dispute between Schuylkill County and Pottsville to rest.
For months two local governments have been at odds over what to do with the former Giant supermarket property.
Both Schuylkill County commissioners and local Pottsville leaders had their eyes set on a Giant grocery store since it closed back in July. But with two very different visions.
“There’s a lot of, I think, desire in Pottsville to make things better, and what the commissioners are suggesting, doesn’t make things better,” Senator David Argall, District 29, said.
County commissioners had several ideas of how to use the property, including converting it into a parking lot or prison pre-release center. On the other hand, city officials, want to put a hotel there.
In a 45 to five bipartisan vote, the Senate passed the Giant bill, halting the commissioners’ plans.
“It’s an infringement upon the ability of the county to operate,” Barron Hetherington, chairman of Schuylkill County commissioners, said.
The new bill states that the county must get approval from the city and school board before it can buy any property in the city, which Commissioner Herrington believes is too restrictive.
“Having the state say that the city can and control what the county does, that’s to me a violation of private property rights,” Hetherington said.
Senator Argall says the bill was created after two county commissioners voted to move forward with the purchasing process even though there was public outcry against it.
The Giant bill has been sent to the state House of Representatives for their approval.