Posted by on August 17, 2020 2:42 pm

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Categories: Coal Region Newswire Local News

dave argall legislation giant pottsville schuylkill county

Pennsylvania State Sen. Dave Argall (R-29) plans to introduce legislation that would prevent deals like the one currently being considered by Schuylkill County Commissioners.

The Commissioners want to buy the former GIANT grocery store property in downtown Pottsville, much to the chagrin of city officials.

Pottsville wants to keep the valuable property on its tax rolls. Meanwhile, the County wants it for one of several potential reasons: either to create a pre-release prison on the site, or to make extra room for government staff.

Neither reason is sitting well with Pottsville officials, who last week passed a resolution voicing their displeasure at the County’s plan.

The fight over this property started back on July 17 when The Canary broke the news on Schuylkill County proposing a pre-release prison on the site of the former GIANT store, which closed for good earlier that month.

Argall Introducing Legislation to Prevent Counties from Buying Property in Revitalized Areas

Argall previously spoke against the County’s proposed plans.

SEE: Argall Calls Pre-Release Prison at GIANT Site a “Major Setback” to Revitalization

But now he’s taking it a step further by proposing legislation that would make it illegal for a county like Schuylkill to purchase a property in a city like Pottsville.

If it were to pass, the legislation would block a 4th-class county – which Schuylkill County is – from purchasing property in an area targeted for revitalization in a 3rd-class city, like Pottsville. In order for such a transaction to take place, if the bill becomes law, both the city and local school district affected would have to pass resolutions OK’ing it.

There are currently 9 4th-class counties in Pennsylvania:

  • Beaver
  • Butler
  • Cambria
  • Centre
  • Fayette
  • Franklin
  • Monroe
  • Schuylkill
  • Washington

A 4th-class county is defined as one having between 145,000 and 209,999 residents.

Third-class cities are defined, simply, as having less than 250,000 people living in it and which haven’t adopted a second-class city ordinance.

Last Resort

Argall says this legislation is being introduced as a bit of a last resort in dealing with the stubborn Schuylkill County Commissioners.

The Commissioners seem intent on moving forward with their plan to purchase the former GIANT property in Pottsville despite criticisms from just about everywhere.

In a statement released to The Canary on Monday morning, Argall said, “After numerous failed attempts to work with the Schuylkill County Commissioners on this issue, I feel I have no further options available except this legislative option to support the City of Pottsville and its redevelopment plans and efforts that are underway.”

Should Schuylkill County get its way, Pottsville believes it will miss out on tens of thousands of dollars in tax revenue every year, between both city government and the Pottsville Area School District.

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5 responses to Argall Plans Legislation to Prevent Deals Like Schuylkill County Buying Former Pottsville GIANT

  1. coalregion12 August 17th, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    Here is an idea. How about using the old Sands Ford Lot for the County Building? No one will use that site for anything. It is on Rte. 61 for easy access too.

    Reply

  2. Anon E. Mouse August 17th, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    What Senator Argall is proposing is knee-jerk legislation that could have unintended consequences in the long run. If the City’s concern is loss of tax revenue then the Senator’s bill should target ALL tax exempt entities from making these purchases; hospitals, fire companies, churches, low-income and/or elderly housing, and any 501-3C organizations such as the YMCA or the Salvation Army. – OR – Propose legislation that would designate certain areas of development in a City as an “Exemption Zone”, whereas Tax Exemptions DO NOT APPLY. This would insure that the taxing authorities would not be adversely affected no matter the purchaser.

    Reply

    • Canary Commenter August 17th, 2020 at 11:03 pm

      Very few 501c3s have the buying power of the County government, especially a County government potentially using CARES Act money to get what they want. Argall has said this is basically a last resort. Generally, his influence, especially over a Republican-majority government would work on its own. And really, preventing any government from expanding is a good thing. The legislation isn’t perfect but it’s more sensible than the County’s plan here.

      Reply

  3. Anon E. Mouse August 18th, 2020 at 12:42 am

    I disagree with the Senator’s response. What happens when Geisinger wants to purchase and they are tax exempt. How do you stop them? And then a church wants to put their congregation there – how do you stop them. And what about the property owner, he’ll probably sue somebody. Limiting your options thru legislation is not a sound appproach.

    Reply

    • Canary Commenter August 18th, 2020 at 12:50 am

      The legislation he’s proposing does include an option to OK a land grab by a tax-exempt entity, as long as it’s signed off by the city and school district. And it has to be in an area targeted for revitalization.

      Reply

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