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STAFF PHOTO/ROBERT BAKER A store based on this 2017 sketchplan in proximity to the old WalMart building in Eaton Township is expected to open in January 2021.

Despite what many believe has been a great deal of inactivity, plans for an Aldi grocery store in Wyoming County are headed to the front burner, Eaton Township supervisors announced last Tuesday night.

Supervisor Abe Kukuchka said it’s looking now like the store will open in January of 2021, and he and Paul Rowker have it on good authority that Aldi’s expects to do some ground breaking in March.

Rory Garr, director of real estate for Aldi’s, was in the audience on Nov. 30, 2017, when representatives of Dynamic Engineering laid out plans in a township zoning hearing for a 19,054 square foot facility that would be sited at 809 Hunter Highway on 1.96 acres on the west side of Route 29 between the traffic light and the Wyoming County Human Services Building.

Three variances were granted that night, and it looked fairly certain that the new store could be a reality after a conditional use hearing the following February pretty much cleared the way for the county planning commission to accept a submission plan in May of 2018 with a review by the county engineer which paved the way for conditional preliminary approval in September of that year.

However nothing physically happened with the site, and Rowker said apparent inactivity was read in some circles that maybe Aldi’s was no longer interested in the site.

Then last June 20, a deed was recorded in the Wyoming County Courthouse for a $1.1 million purchase of just under two acres in the old WalMart parking lot in Eaton Township.

In that deed, Ranwood Properties LLC with Robert Sherwood as signatory, sold the 1.96 acres to Aldi Inc. (Pennsylvania) of Center Valley, Lehigh County.

Rowker said the original plans remain intact and he always felt it was just a matter of time before construction activity would finally appear.

He underscored Tuesday that there are a lot of people who can’t wait until Aldi’s gets here.

Also, on Tuesday, the Eaton supervisors - with Ken White absent - discussed briefly a hearing that took place on Jan. 30 regarding a new Tunkhannock Ford dealership that is to be on the east side of Route 29, just south of Creekside Gardens.

Initially, the developers - Matt and Dave Pompey - had planned to access the showroom and garage and car lot via Village Road, a township road, but PennDOT said that expected traffic dictated a state road be used for access.

Rowker said that because the development was always conditional based on it getting a highway occupancy permit from PennDOT, nothing has changed from the original site plans okayed through previous conditional use hearings.

Supervisors Rowker and Kukuchka also spoke about the roadside rest near the Route 29 bridge over Bowmans Creek continuing to be a problem site for some undesirable activity, and they hoped to have a meeting with stakeholders - including PennDOT and the county commissioners in late winter or early spring to create an action plan for its future.