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Project Jackson trial begins Friday in Aiken County

Thursday, July 17, 2014 8:00 PM
Last updated Friday, July 18, 2014 1:43 AM
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The fate of North Augusta’s planned riverfront baseball park could become clearer after Friday.

A lawsuit challenging Project Jackson, a $144 million development that includes a new stadium for the Augusta GreenJackets, is going before South Carolina Circuit Judge Ernest Kinard in Aiken County. The plaintiff, North Augusta homeowner Stephen Donohue, claims the city violated the state’s Tax Increment Financing law when it created an ordinance to fund the project.

Donohue, who opposes the site for the stadium near his neighborhood, filed his lawsuit in December. He says there was no evidence to support the development area as blighted, a requirement for a TIF district.
It’s unclear if Kinard will issue a ruling immediately after the trial’s conclusion.

The evidence admitted in trial was disputed at a June hearing. Donohue sought to limit the evidence to documents used during open sessions of City Council when it was deciding on the project, while the defendant said it can use the council’s record and any other factual record to show blight.

City Administrator Todd Glover said the lawsuit has slowed down, but not stopped, planning efforts for the development, which would include a hotel and conference center, parking decks and retail and living space.
“Obviously, we are anxious to get this behind us,” he said. “The project is in really good shape. People will be very excited to see what we have lined up.”

Glover said companies have not committed to the project, but if the judge rules in favor of North Augusta, deals can be solidified.

James Mosteller, a Barnwell attorney who represents Donohue, did not return phone calls.

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