CHARLOTTE -- Worried in part that a new lawsuit could affect some school construction projects, Mecklenburg County commissioners on Wednesday delayed several key votes to help bring minor-league baseball uptown.
Commissioners said they plan to take up the issue again at their Jan. 15 meeting.
The extra time will allow commissioner chairman Jennifer Roberts a chance to meet with Jerry Reese, a real estate attorney who is fighting the plan.
Commissioners are worried about part of a lawsuit filed Wednesday by Reese. Among other things, it seeks to stop the county from issuing bonds to buy property for a land swap that's part of the stadium deal. However, the money also would be spent for other county projects, including school construction.
"It could be that we could persuade him to take out that cause of action so that we don't have to litigate that issue," said commissioners vice-chairman Parks Helms. "It's unrelated to the overriding issue related to the land swap and baseball."
Commissioner Bill James also spoke in favor of delaying the votes, noting that the bond money affects more than just baseball.
Commissioners said they hope Reese and Roberts can negotiate on other issues as well and possibly reduce the chance of "protracted litigation."
Reese, who attended the commissioners' meeting, said he was willing to negotiate with the board.
He stressed he didn't want to block any school construction. He believes the city will eventually attract a major-league team and building a smaller stadium is short-sighted.
Reese said he hopes to meet with Roberts by the end of the week.
The votes delayed on Wednesday were on a lease agreement to allow the Charlotte Knights to build a new stadium in Third Ward, a plan to sell land in Second Ward for a mixed-use project and another proposal to buy land for an urban park.
Before Wednesday, Reese already had filed two other lawsuits to block the baseball project, which involves a complicated swap of land owned by the county and private companies. A judge dismissed those claims in October, but Reese has since appealed.
Helms said the delay "is the last continuance that I'm willing to support."
"I'm ready to vote, and I think I've been very patient and we've all been very patient," he said. "It's an issue that needs to be resolved, and we need to move forward."