York County judge again rejects foundation’s request to dismiss lawsuit

adouglas@heraldonline.comNovember 9, 2013 

A judge has rejected a York County foundation’s third request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the York County Council.

Jack Kimball, the county’s master-in-equity judge, also ordered the Culture and Heritage Foundation to turn over some financial and other records requested by York County. Kimball agreed to shield other foundation documents from disclosure.

The county is suing the Culture and Heritage Foundation, in part, because of the organization’s 2012 decision to no longer exclusively support York County’s public museums. So far, the county has spent nearly $86,000 on the suit. Officials have said the lawsuit ultimately could cost taxpayers up to $250,000.

Foundation leaders say their organization now wants to financially support a range of cultural and historical causes or groups.

In its lawsuit, York County alleges that the foundation has been using donated money for causes other than some donors’ intent. Central to the county’s case is hundreds of acres of land located along the Catawba River, near Sutton Road and Interstate 77.

The land was donated in 1998 by Jane Spratt McColl. Since then, nearly 60 acres have been sold for development.

York County is suing for control of the land, saying McColl intended for it and proceeds from her donation to solely benefit the county’s public museums.

The foundation argues that McColl wants her gift to benefit the Culture and Heritage Foundation – not York County’s museums exclusively. An affidavit signed by McColl shows she wants the foundation to use her land gift as it wishes and that her donation was intended for the foundation, not the county.

County Councilman Bump Roddey has said the McColl affidavit has put York County “behind the eight ball” in the court battle.

In September, Roddey called the amount spent already on the lawsuit “outrageous.”

At that point, York County estimated about $55,000 was spent during the first three months after the suit was filed.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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