UPDATE | Project Jackson has another delay

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Thursday July, 24 2014

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW)--According to Judge Ernest Kinard's office, he did not receive necessary paperwork to make his decision on Thursday. Previously, he told both sides of the case that if he did receive that paperwork, he would have his decision on Thursday. North Augusta submitted their paperwork but Steve Donohue and his attorney could not.

Donohue could not be reached for comment.

Friday July, 18 2014

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW)—The waiting game is almost over for people on both sides of a lawsuit filed against the city of North Augusta. The suit was filed by Steve Donohue back in December in the hopes of preventing Project Jackson from happening on the South Carolina riverfront.

On Friday, Donohue and representatives met in an Aiken courtroom to plea their cases. The arguments mainly centered around the word blight and whether or not the area where Project Jackson would go. The plaintiffs argued that because the city used a study done in 199, that the area could not still be considered blighted. Steve Donohue spent nearly two hours on the stand trying to argue that point. During one period, he was questioned by the defense if he thought he could win this lawsuit.

“I would be a fool to be sitting here if I didn’t think I could win,” Donohue said.

Later, North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones took the stand to argue his points as to why the area was, in fact, blighted. He says that since the original study was done, not much has changed in the area, which he says means the area is still blighted.

The area key cog in the case is the TIF district, which is how the project will partially be financed. In order to create a TIF district, one of the requirements is a finding of blight in the area.

Donohue also argued on whether or not the city violated Freedom of Information Act laws in executive sessions of city council that were held during the planning phases of Project Jackson. Donohue asserts that decisions were made behind closed doors and away from the public. The city countered that argument by saying that all meetings were done within the law and no votes were taken during executive decisions.

As the day came to it’s conclusion, the judge told both parties that if they could get final requests to his office by Wednesday, that he would make a decision on the case by Thursday. If not, he said it might not be until September that he’s able to make a decision.

The master developer of Project Jackson said on Friday that if the judge rules in favor of North Augusta and allows the plan to move forward, they expect to break ground in November. Their hope would be to have the entire project completed by the start of the 2016 baseball season.

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