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River Club Homeowners Association files civil suit over Project Jackson

Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 4:44 PM
Last updated Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 8:35 AM
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Project Jackson has hit another hurdle and this time it’s in the court system.

North Augusta resident Stephen Donohue and the River Club Homeowners Association filed a civil suit Monday against the city of North Augusta, the mayor and City Council in the Court of Common Pleas in Aiken County.

Donohue, who did not return a call seeking comment, is also the president of the homeowners association.

As of Thursday afternoon, the complaint had not been formally served, said city attorney Kelly Zier, who acknowledged he is aware it has been filed.

Upon being served, the named defendants will have 30 days to respond.

The lawsuit lists several claims, including that the city ordinance passed Nov. 18 by City Council to help fund the riverfront development – No. 2013-19 – violates South Carolina’s Tax Increment Financing Law.

It states that there was no evidence to support “a current finding of ‘blight’ or ‘conservation area’ ” and that the city relied on findings from the early 1990s that did not include the proposed Project Jackson area.

A motion was also filed Monday asking the court for a temporary injunction to keep the city from issuing TIF bonds for Project Jackson, a proposed $144 million riverfront development covering 25 to 30 acres that will feature a mixture of public and private investments, including a baseball stadium for the Augusta GreenJackets.

The lawsuit also states a concern that the development would “place burdens on the city for public safety and other essential governmental services for which the development will not contribute taxes since those will be captured to pay for public development, to wit: baseball stadium, parking decks, and conference center and as such will increase the tax burden on the plaintiffs to pay for the additional public services.”

Donohue and the association also believe that property values would potentially decrease as a result of the traffic and congestion Project Jackson could bring, according to the document.

They claim that a 10 percent decrease in the property values of homes in the River Club Homeowners Association would result in about $4,868,260 in total damages.

The plaintiffs also allege City Council did not properly follow the Freedom of Information Act when it held executive sessions between January and September, claiming that the specific purposes for the sessions weren’t properly announced.

The document specifically refers to an executive session held March 11 to discuss contracts.

A news release was issued the next day to announce the postponement of a public hearing regarding the TIF for Project Jackson that was to be held during the March 18 City Council meeting and the council’s decision to postpone asking the Aiken County Public School District to approve the proposed TIF amendments.

If the court issues a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, they are asking that the court declare the ordinance invalid and keep the city from collecting school and county taxes from the redevelopment area or crediting them to any special tax allocation fund as allowed for in the law; nullify every decision City Council has made since Jan. 7 regarding the TIF and Project Jackson as a result of improperly holding private meetings; and pay for costs and attorney fees, the document stated.

If the city ordinance is not found invalid, the plaintiffs are asking the court to award damages for any decrease in property values.

Comments (13) Add comment
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etlinks
20344
Points
etlinks 12/12/13 - 06:06 pm
7
2
Good luck River Club HOA but

Good luck River Club HOA but I think the fat lady is warming up her voice.

mosovich
768
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mosovich 12/12/13 - 07:08 pm
9
3
Hat's off..

I admire them for taking this on!! So many people just rollover, but these people are standing up for something they believe in..

RMSHEFF
15895
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RMSHEFF 12/12/13 - 07:25 pm
4
18
These are a bunch of "not in

These are a bunch of "not in my backyard" elitist. They don't want common folk anywhere near their slice of paradise, only green space. Maybe they should give up on the riverfront development and put in some section 8 housing.

nocnoc
41446
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nocnoc 12/12/13 - 08:32 pm
4
2
Boo Hoo for the TurnCoats aka Green jackets

It is remotely possible they will end up on this side of the river again.
Or, a Team without a Stadium, after running a foul with 2 sets up Taxpayers.

Wondering out loud....
Given the wheeling a dealing around here, it would not surprise me if this was in some way a backdoor attempt to have one more shot at a stadium downtown ARC.

seenitB4
85822
Points
seenitB4 12/13/13 - 07:51 am
4
4
Been there done that

Did Gwinnett stop the train from rolling--NOPE
Did Cobb county stop the Braves---NOPE
This train has left the building.....toot toot....all aboard...you will have ball playing near the river....eventually a nice bridge over the Savannah...& who knows where this is going...I see the downtown players involved in making this happen.

flcracker
112
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flcracker 12/13/13 - 08:15 am
2
0
Brick Pond Park

If Project Jackson does go through, will Brick Pond Park be affected?

nocnoc
41446
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nocnoc 12/13/13 - 09:24 am
5
1
Gwinnett Stadium Deal is a GOOD example of BAD

Gwinnett Sold their Stadium to the taxpayers as a $19M Stadium.
A week after it started the design "surprisingly" required unforeseen adjustments.

The new ADJUSTED price was estimated to by $29M, and Finally it came in at $32.4M.

A number of "PRIVATE INVESTORS" that bought the Land around the Stadium, BEFORE it was announced. Turned out to be BIG Political insider friends and those that pushed hard and provided $$$ to pass the TAXPAYER Referendum.

The Taxpayer were told it would pay for it self in Revenue. A real audit showed it falls short by $Million$ even using a 20 years amortization.

SeenItB4, How is that Stadium Working Out,

Last I heard it was one of the reasons 2 County Commissioner went to Jail and 2 or was it 3, resigned or did not run their next election.

But Gwinnett is still on the hook for $30++M for a Stadium and the Team has already "hinted" it wants improvements and changes already after <8 years of operation.

Aiken Taxpayers should be looking at it this way.
Every penny spent on this stadium is 1.5 pennies less spent on the students. Taxpayer BONDS charge Interest remember?

If the Taxpayers project costs are $40Million that's about $60Million that does not go to teaching the Aiken Co. Students over the period of the BOND.

Little Lamb
45393
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Little Lamb 12/13/13 - 10:53 am
5
0
Blight

I'm glad these folk are standing up for the law. These TIFs (SC) and TADs (GA) are supposed to be set up to redevelop blighted slums. Instead, our politicians thumb their noses at the law and arrange to transfer taxpayer money to their cronies to develop pristine properties.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 12/13/13 - 09:31 am
1
2
Spring training is right

Spring training is right around the corner. Can't wait. This is why I chop!

seenitB4
85822
Points
seenitB4 12/13/13 - 09:48 am
2
3
Gwinnett

Some folks love it & some hate it (just like N Augusta) the cost was over the original estimate(haha-as usual)..many neighbors complained because they were promised up scale stores-shopping but that hasn't happened yet...they vetoed more apts going in & we shall see what transpires....
BUT, just like everything else..money talks & the guys with it make the decisions...it was a done deal from the start....& eventually it will boom with business & stores...they are widening the road & remember this is near the Mall of Ga....if they want it---it will happen...gota love politicians...:)

etlinks
20344
Points
etlinks 12/13/13 - 11:41 am
4
1
Low class comments.

Trolls come from all parts of the USA. This stadium deal is more than just people that live in big fancy houses, its about the everyday man who works and pays his taxes. A vote from the citizens of Aiken Co. on this issue would have answered alot of questions. And hell yes I gave you the TD.

bdouglas
4899
Points
bdouglas 12/13/13 - 12:04 pm
0
0
@flcracker

From the plans I've seen posted, the development would fall between Railroad Ave and the river, so it shouldn't affect Brick Pond Park other than giving one side of it a different view.

etlinks
20344
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etlinks 12/13/13 - 12:37 pm
1
0
Removed

I'm sorry about my little rant since the comment has been removed.

GiantsAllDay
9429
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GiantsAllDay 12/13/13 - 01:03 pm
1
0
Did my comment get removed?

Did my comment get removed? This one might get removed if there is something wrong with the word "removed". Words are just words aren't they?

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