HOLLIDAYSBURG — The Hollidaysburg Borough Council adopted a Second Amendment Sanctuary agreement and discussed a proposal that could offer a competing cable and internet option on Thursday.
Comcast has an opportunity to extend its operations into the borough, according to Jen Frees, Comcast’s manager of government relations.
The company has also reached out and met with Duncansville, Allegheny Township and Blair Township leaders, she said. The extension would bring fiber ties from Williamsburg and move throughout the area from Hollidaysburg.
To do that, Comcast would need a franchise, which would give it the right of way into the borough’s utilities, Frees said.
“It would provide your residents the opportunity to have a choice for your cable carrier,” Frees said.
Currently, Hollidaysburg Borough only offers Breezeline — formerly named Atlantic Broadband — as its cable and cable internet provider.
The project would include six months to get permits and preparation when Comcast would move things on the poles to make them concurrent to FCC rules and safety. Then it would move forward with construction, with a total project time of anywhere between 18 and 24 months.
“When we do move into a community, we call it ‘lighting up’ as we build and connect to homes that want our services. We light the entire way,” Frees said. “We don’t wait until the entire project is done to flip the switch and turn everybody on.”
The council agreed to review Comcast’s proposal to make sure it wouldn’t infringe upon the agreement the borough currently has with Breezeline before it moves forward.
During the public comment section of the meeting, Blair County Tea Party member Joe Addink addressed the council regarding the Second Amendment Sanctuary Referendum Intergovernmental Agreement.
He said two versions of the agreement are being sent around, one being the version the Blair County commissioners adopted and the other, which the Tea Party and Second Amendment Coalition is pushing for.
One primary difference between the agreements is that the Blair County version says it will not conflict with any state or federal law, Addink said.
“I would just like to point out to you that the entire reason for the Second Amendment referendum was to conflict with state or federal law,” he said. “That being any new law that tends to infringe on Second Amendment rights of the citizens should not be enforced. Therefore, to have an agreement that says we will only enforce those laws which are unconstitutional is ridiculous because those laws can’t be enforced anyway.”
Another difference is the third-party standing, Addink said.
“This is not an ordinance, this is not a law, this is a contract that we will agree to not enforce any new laws which infringe on the Second Amendment,” he said. “As such, the contract passed by the Blair County commissioners means that only one municipality can sue another municipality.”
Addink further explained that if he felt his rights were being infringed upon, under this agreement, he would have to go to another municipality and have its solicitor take action against Hollidaysburg.
“Number one, that goes against the natural flow of government where the government officials should be accountable by their own citizens, not the citizens of another area,” Addink said. “Number two, it leaves the entire decision up to the solicitors in those other organizations.”
He finished his comments by asking for citizens to have a third-party standing in the agreement.
When the referendum discussion was brought up later in the meeting, Councilmember Sean Burke moved to adopt the county-passed agreement as is, with Council Member Brady Leahey seconding the motion.
Council President Joe Pompa, however, stated that he was not comfortable with that agreement.
“If somebody is wronged or if somebody feels they were wronged, they have no recourse,” Pompa said. “I mean, you have to get another municipality to bring it up.”
However, council solicitor Nathan Karns stated that the agreement is not a contract between a government and a particular person or its own citizens, it’s an agreement between governments.
“I’ve likened it to a square peg in a rectangle hole,” Karns said. “The square peg is the proposed referendum in the first place, the rectangle is what the law is, so it will fit in there, but if you want it to be bigger, you can’t make it bigger. The peg is the peg and the rectangle is the rectangle.”
Karns said that if the borough wanted to do something separate or in addition to the agreement, it could enact an ordinance.
Following this discussion, the agreement was adopted as is, with Pompa being the sole ‘no’ vote.
Mirror Staff Writer Rachel Foor is at 814-946-7458.
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