News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, Oct. 21, 2013
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- In the first of three readings for an ordinance to finance Project Jackson through a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, the North Augusta City Council approved the plan in a vote of 6-to-1.
In the meeting, also a designated public hearing, the public had a chance to speak up about Project Jackson, the $150 million public-private venture that'll bring the GreenJackets, a luxury hotel, restaurants, and more to the North Augusta Riverfront.
"I never imagined that North Augusta would develop to the point that it has," says Renee DeMedici of North Augusta. "I do believe that it will create jobs, and I think that we need more jobs right here in North Augusta."
However, not all showed up in support. Many began to critique or criticize the merits of the actual proposal.
River Club HOA President Steve Donohue, the most vocal opponent, said the land to be developed isn't truly blighted. By law, blight is a requirement for the establishment of a TIF district.
"We are torturing a law using a 22 year old study on blight and saying, 'Oh my God! It's still blighted, and I don't want to look. I don't want to look.'" he said. "We're going through using a statute to eliminate blight, and we're lying to everybody! That's what it comes down to, Mr. Mayor."
Mayor Lark Jones remains that the project will make North Augusta a premier destination. He hopes the development will spur the creation of restaurants and shops that will be the envy of the entire area.
If and when the TIF is approved, both the mayor and city administrator say only then will council begin to debate the merits of the proposal itself.
If everything is successful, the mayor predicts a groundbreaking this time next year.