Bids for grading the site for Giti Tire’s new plant will remain on hold while a judge determines if Chester County followed proper bidding procedures.
Circuit Judge Lee Alford extended a temporary restraining order Friday after listening to arguments about whether Chester County followed either state or its own procurement procedures.
Giti Tire plans to build a $560 million plant on a 1,100-acre site between S.C. 9 and Old Richburg Highway. The company bought the land from the Springs Corp. on Tuesday. The sale price has not been disclosed.
The tire plant is expected to employ 1,700 people and make 30,000 passenger and light truck tires a day.
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Joseph Richardson, vice president and counsel for Richardson Construction Co. of Columbia, said Chester County followed neither state nor county procedures when it narrowed a list of 18 potential companies to a list of five “pre-qualified” companies for consideration. Bobby Richardson, owner of construction company, said his business was No. 7 on the list.
The company contends that state procurement policies, which do not include pre-qualification, should apply because Giti was awarded a $36.3 million grant by the S.C. Coordinating Council on Economic Development. The money was awarded to help the Singapore-based company purchase the land and make site improvements.
Even if state policies are not used, Joseph Richardson said the county violated its own policies by selecting the top five, pre-qualified candidates. Chester County’s rules allow the county to exclude companies that fail to meet minimum standards, but do not allow the county to exclude bidders that meet its qualifications, Richardson said.
“They didn’t follow either of the policies,” Joseph Richardson said following Friday’s court hearing.
Joan Winters, Chester County’s attorney, said the agreement with the state gave Giti the option of following either state or county procurement rules. Winters said the company opted to use the county’s policies.
The county was originally supposed to consider information from the top five pre-qualified firms on Dec 5., but stopped the process when Richardson Construction was granted a temporary restraining order on Dec. 1.
The county has not released the list of the top five firms it selected, citing Richardson’s legal action.
A spokesman for Giti Tire said the company could not comment on the pending case.
Unclear is whether the court case could delay an anticipated January groundbreaking for the tire plant.
Chester County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey said they are holding onto the information from interested companies, awaiting the court’s decision.
Karlisa Parker, Chester County’s economic development director, said Giti is committed to the project and the firm is moving closer to creating jobs for Chester County.
During Friday’s hearing, R. Bryant Barnes, who represented Richardson Construction, said, “The way everyone can win is for the county to rebid it. Richardson won’t be hurt (in rebidding) and they may not get the job.”
Company owner Bobby Richardson said his firm “needs the work. . . we want the opportunity to bid.” He estimated the contract for the work would range between $10 million and $20 million.
He said the company has already worked at the site. In 2005, it cleared about 100 acres when an automotive prospect was interested in the land.
Judge Alford said he would consider the case over the weekend, but did not say when he would announce his decision.