N.A. neighborhood votes to be removed from Project Jackson suit

  • Posted: Saturday, December 21, 2013 12:17 a.m.
    UPDATED: Saturday, December 21, 2013 12:24 a.m.

NORTH AUGUSTA —The River Club Homeowner's Association, after nearly an hour of executive session, passed a resolution on Friday in response to Steve Donohue and the River Club Homeowners Association's complaint last week alleging that the amended Tax Increment Financing district ordinance approved in November by Council is invalid.

The River Club held the meeting with the Board of Directors and a resolution was passed directing the president, Donohue, to have the complaint amended and to remove the Association as a party of the litigation. The board votes included Fred Ilardi, Jennifer Adams and Tim Pate as wanting the HOA to be removed and Donohue being against the removal. Kim Romaner was not present for the vote.

The complaint will be amended on Monday, and while it has been filed, it has not been served against the City.

Project Jackson is a proposed 457-acre development along the Savannah River front consisting of possibly a hotel, stores and a baseball stadium.

The fallout over the City of North Augusta's decision on how it will handle the Project Jackson lawsuit has left the River Club divided.

North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones has publicly said, repeatedly, that the City's decision was not meant to divide the neighborhood. At the meeting, the City took steps that included options of answering the complaint, bringing counterclaims against the plaintiffs and initiating additional litigation against the plaintiffs. Council also authorized the mayor and city administrator to dismiss the claims by the City against any of the plaintiffs should a party dismiss theirs against the City.

Since then, resident Stephen Posey, owner of Posey Funeral Directors and a River Club resident, has spoken out against the complaint. Another resident, Lee Wetherington, retired police chief, likened the complaint to that of a “loaded gun with somebody ready to pull the trigger.”

“We don't want that trigger pulled. We want it withdrawn before somebody does that,” Wetherington said in an interview with WRDW News 12.

The River Club had two petitions circulating throughout the neighborhood.

The first asked for a special-called meeting, which occurred Friday.

The second petition, according to a source within the River Club, was to hold off on any decision until the regularly scheduled annual meeting on Jan. 26. The River Club's attorney, James Mosteller of Aiken, was to be present, according to a source, and available for questions or comments from residents. However, with the Association's withdrawal, that leaves Donohue as the only plaintiff and makes his presence a moot point.

“As you may recall, the membership approved $3,500 in legal expenses at our last annual meeting (on Feb. 13) regarding 'Project Jackson,'” Donohue wrote in an email sent on Dec. 10 to other members of the Homeowners Association. “We have not overspent that allocation in filing this suit. About another $1,500 was raised from HOA members, Hammond's Ferry residents, and others who view this action by the city as contrary to law or an inappropriate use of the riverfront area.”

Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star.

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