The legal fight between York County and the organization that once managed donations for the county’s museums appears to be drawing to a close.
On Tuesday night, the county’s museum commission and the York County Council signed off on the latest version of settlement terms that will end the lawsuit which the county filed last summer.
After the vote, council Chairman Britt Blackwell said the lawsuit achieved protection of donated assets meant to be used for York County museums. In settling, “we all move forward and we end this,” he said.
Attorneys and officials with the county and the Culture and Heritage Foundation have spent the past five months hammering out details of an agreement previously signed in March. The agreement approved on Tuesday night is based on the deal previously struck, county officials said.
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The earlier agreement arose from mediation months after the county filed its suit. It dictates that money from the sale of nearly 275 acres of donated land will be used to benefit York County museums.
The foundation and the county have agreed to put the proceeds from the land into a mutually controlled fund, held by the Foundation for the Carolinas.
The land, located in Fort Mill along the Catawba River, has been at the center of the dispute. The property, donated in 1998 by Jane Spratt McColl, is expected to be sold for nearly $10 million to be used for residential development.
The previous agreement also calls for a forensic audit of the Culture and Heritage Foundation’s fundraising and spending. York County has agreed to state in writing that there’s “no evidence of malfeasance” on the foundation’s behalf, if that statement is consistent with the auditor’s findings.
Fighting and accusations over the foundation’s handling of donations and the donated land has plagued the relationship between the organization and York County for years. The county sued last June after negotiations on the use of donated assets broke down.
The lawsuit came nearly one year after the foundation formally changed its mission statement to no longer give financial support solely to the county’s public museums. Before the mission statement change, the County Council had voted to sever formal organization ties with the foundation.
York County has spent more than $140,000 in legal costs related to the dispute with the foundation.
With a formal end to the lawsuit now in sight, foundation board Chairman Bill Easley said he’s “relieved.” His organization, he said, is looking forward to moving forward and seeing the donated land used to benefit York County residents.