A resolution for litigation against Project Jackson did not materialize on Thursday as anticipated.
South Carolina Circuit Court Judge J. Ernest Kinard Jr. stated at the July 18 trial that he would not give his verdict until reviewing orders from the legal teams of Steve Donohue, a River Club resident and plaintiff in the case, and the defense, the City of North Augusta, Mayor Lark Jones and North Augusta City Council. Those orders were to be submitted by Wednesday.
According to Kyle Tennis, law clerk for Kinard, Donohue’s team did not submit an order for review, so the case is still pending.
“There will be no ruling today (Thursday),” Tennis said. “The judge did not receive an order from the plaintiffs and would not be able to go through one at this late hour. He will be on vacation starting (today) and will return before Aug. 4, when he will be in court in York County. There could be a ruling by early August, but I cannot speculate as to an exact date.”
Belton Zeigler, lead attorney for the defense, called the delay “disappointing.”
“The City has done everything it can to bring this to a prompt end,” Zeigler said. “The delay hurts the citizens of North Augusta, because it is putting up road blocks in one of the most amazing developments that could happen. Project Jackson could revitalize the core of North Augusta, and it’s fair to say the City is disappointed.”
Zeigler went on to say the City has attempted to resolve the legal injunction on multiple occasions.
“We were ready to go to trial a month ago,” he said. “We were ready to go all the way to the state Supreme Court. All of the legal and factual arguments have been made.”
Multiple calls to James Mosteller, attorney for Donohue, were not returned.
Donohue filed his complaint against the City on Dec. 9 challenging the validity of the ordinance that amended a 1996 ordinance establishing the Tax Increment Financing district, or TIF district, to finance a portion of Project Jackson. Donohue’s complaint maintains the amended ordinance does not comply with state law because there’s no evidence of blight in the area and there are no findings that property values where Project Jackson would be located would remain static or decline without intervention.
Project Jackson is a proposed 457-acre development, possibly consisting of a hotel, stores and a baseball stadium. It will be located between the River Club and Hammond’s Ferry neighborhoods in North Augusta.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.