GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - After a heated debate Thursday evening, Georgetown City Council members voted 4 to 3 in favor of a proposal to rezone the steel mill property.
The proposal will now go to the planning committee and then a public hearing.
"Why is it being fast-tracked?" asked the president of the Georgetown United Steelworkers Union chapter James Sanderson. "They're talking 20 to 25 years from benefits, why are they trying to get it done now?"
Council members voted on a proposal to rezone the mill's property based off of a 2016 study that recommended to rezone from heavy industrial to a mix-use redevelopment plan.
Georgetown Mayor Jack Scoville says council is in no way trying to hold the reopening of the mill.
He says council members have been working closely with Liberty House, the company negotiating to purchase the steel mill from Arcellor Mittal.
"What we're putting on the table tonight is a rezoning that will completely grandfather Liberty House as long as the reopen within a year," the mayor said.
The United Steelworkers Union is not convinced.
"It could damage the sale to Liberty House from Arcellor Mittal and that's why we're concerned," Sanderson said."The steelworkers are prepared to bring a lawsuit against the City of Georgetown and the individuals who put the risk of losing jobs for steelworkers and shutting the mill down."
Scoville said after the mill already failed three times in the past decade, they are simply trying to have a solid back up plan for the city.
"If they fail and it shuts down again, we are in a position to transition the property into something other than heavy industrial," Scoville said.
Liberty House and Arcellor Mittal are still currently in negotiations for the sale of the steel mill.
"There has not been a finalization but one should occur in the foreseeable future," Scoville said.
"I think everyone here in Georgetown is going to have a very Merry Christmas," Sanderson said.
We reached out to Arcellor Mittal for comment on the sale of the property. We have yet to hear back from them.
The steel mill reopening would bring an estimated 275 jobs to Georgetown.