HOLLIDAYSBURG — The Hollidaysburg Borough Council passed a Second Amendment sanctuary agreement Thursday and discussed a proposal that could provide a competing cable and Internet option.
Comcast has an opportunity to expand operations in the borough, according to Jen Frees, government relations manager at Comcast.
The company has also contacted and met with leaders from Duncansville, Allegheny Township and Blair Township, she said. The extension would bring fiber links from Williamsburg and travel throughout the Hollidaysburg area.
To do that, Comcast would need a franchise, which would give it the right of way in the borough’s utilities, Frees said.
“It would give your residents the option of having a choice for your cable provider,” said Free.
Currently, the borough of Hollidaysburg only offers Breezeline – formerly known as Atlantic Broadband – as a cable and wired Internet service provider.
The project would include six months to get permits and preparation when Comcast would move things on the poles to make them compliant with FCC rules and safety. Then it would move forward with construction, with a total project duration of between 18 and 24 months.
“When we move into a community, we call it ‘lighting up’ when we build and connect to homes that want our services. We light up all the way,” said Free. “We don’t wait until the whole project is done to flip the switch and turn everyone on.”
The board agreed to review Comcast’s proposal to ensure it would not violate the agreement the borough currently has with Breezeline before moving forward.
During the public comment section of the meeting, Blair County Tea Party member Joe Addink addressed the council regarding the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Second Amendment Sanctuary Referendum.
He said two versions of the agreement are being sent, one being the version adopted by Blair County commissioners and the other being pushed for by the Tea Party and the Second Amendment Coalition.
One of the key differences between the agreements is that Blair County’s version says it won’t conflict with any state or federal law, Addink said.
“I would just like to point out to you that the whole reason for the Second Amendment referendum was to conflict with state law or federal law,” he said. “That being any new law that tends to infringe on citizens’ Second Amendment rights should not be enforced. Therefore, having an agreement that says we will only enforce laws that are unconstitutional is ridiculous because those laws cannot be enforced anyway.
Another difference is third-party quality, Addink said.
“It’s not an ordinance, it’s not a law, it’s a contract that we will agree not to enforce new laws that violate the Second Amendment,” he said. “As such, the contract made by Blair County Commissioners means that only one municipality can sue another municipality.”
Addink further explained that if he felt his rights were being infringed, under this agreement, he would have to go to another municipality and ask his lawyer to file a lawsuit against Hollidaysburg.
“First, it goes against the natural flow of government where government officials should be accountable to their own citizens, not the citizens of another region,” Addink said. “Number two, that leaves the whole decision up to the lawyers for those other organizations.”
He ended his remarks by asking citizens to have a third party in the agreement.
When the referendum discussion came up later in the meeting, council member Sean Burke moved to adopt the county-passed agreement as is, with council member Brady Leahey seconding the motion.
Council Chairman Joe Pompa, however, said he was not comfortable with the deal.
“If someone is wronged or if someone feels wronged, he has no recourse”, said Pompa. “I mean, you have to ask another municipality to approach it.”
However, council lawyer Nathan Karns said the agreement is not a contract between a government and a particular person or their own citizens, it is an agreement between governments.
“I compared it to a square peg in a rectangular 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 bigger, you can’t make it bigger The peg is the peg and the rectangle is the rectangle.
Karns said if the borough wanted to do something separate or in addition to the agreement, it could issue an ordinance.
Following this discussion, the agreement was adopted as is, Pompa being the only one to vote “no”.
Mirror Staff Writer Rachel Foor is at 814-946-7458.