Fort Mill tower owners respond to York County’s rejection

03/20/2012 12:00 AM

03/21/2012 6:56 AM

The owners of a Fort Mill tower will meet with their attorneys soon to discuss whether they’ll fulfill a threat to sue York County for financial damages related to a stalled plan to rebuild a blighted high-rise.

“We do want to have one more meeting with the lawyers,” said Rick Joyner, executive director and spiritual leader of MorningStar Ministries, which owns the 21-story former PTL tower – built in the 1980s as part of televangelist Jim Bakker’s spiritual vacation destination, Heritage USA.

The York County Council on Monday rejected the ministry’s proposal for fixing up the tower’s exterior and its request for five more years to complete renovations.

Council members said the ministry’s proposal still lacked the detail necessary to ensure it would be able to carry out the project.

The decision ended more than a year of legal mediation between the county and ministry brought on by a dispute over the terms of a development agreement. It set forth deadlines for financing and building the tower and offers demolition as a remedy should those deadlines pass.

If the mediator declares an impasse, both parties, according to their development agreement, would be free to sue.

The county claims the ministry defaulted on its side of the deal when it failed to show proof it could finance and complete the tower renovation.

Earlier this month, Joyner and ministry leaders said they had a lawsuit “ready to go” to sue the county for “sabotaging” the tower project with public claims of default.

County leaders said there is still a chance to agree on a solution without taking the matter to court.

Joyner, who wasn’t present at Monday’s County Council meeting, said Tuesday the ministry feels confident it will win a case against the county and will have details to support its claims.

“We’re going to be able to prove very clearly every position we have,” he said. “I don’t see how we could lose this thing. It’s pretty much a slam-dunk case.”

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