A special exception to the county's zoning ordinance was granted to Gladstone Partners, LLC by the Schuylkill County Zoning Hearing Board, which will allow the firm to construct a commercial cargo airport on a site in East Union Township.

The board met Thursday evening at the courthouse in Pottsville.

The decision ended more than a year's worth of hearings in which strong objections were raised by East Union Township citizens and other officials, and Service Electric Cable Company, which provides the television signals to residents in the county.

Although the board's duty is finished, the issue is far from over as counsel for both the township and cable company indicated they would appeal the decision to the county court.

Gladstone wants to construct the airport on a large tract of land owned by Butler Enterprises on which Gladstone has an option to purchase, but was waiting for the decision if it could use the land for its purpose.

The proposed site for the airport was previously used as a strip mine. Since 2005 Gladstone has obtained various permits from the federal and state agencies to develop the property in the township.

The special exception was sought from the county because the county has jurisdiction over the land and East Union Township did not have a zoning ordinance.

Once the township learned of Gladstone's plan, it hurriedly adopted an ordinance and appointed its own zoning hearing board, but they were a day late in the board becoming active. Gladstone had already filed its application with the county board. A court case followed but the judge ruled the county board had the right to hear the applicant. The court had ruled the township's objection was "time-barred."

The zoning hearing board's decision was unanimous.

Edward Seitzinger, chairman of the board, commented before the other two board members, Dr. Dave Ambrose and Dave Daub, voted.

Seitzinger said it was a difficult decision but that the board had to follow the law and claimed the plan Gladstone presented satisfied the criteria of a special exception, that there would be no adversity to the health or safety of the citizens, no disruption of the television signal as claimed by Service Electric, and was compatible with traffic coming off Interstate 81.