County Council OKs MorningStar's plans for tower

MorningStar Ministries can move forward with plans to convert the unfinished 20-story tower at Fort Mill's Regent Park into an active-adult community.

After a final public hearing and an intense conversation on taxation and impact fees, the York County Council voted 6-1 Monday in favor of the development plans and an agreement that outlines funding and building timelines for the tower. If these aren't met, the agreement calls for the tower's demolition.

The former Heritage USA tower was supposed to be demolished early this year and has sat in stages of decomposition since Jim Bakker left Praise the Lord Ministries in disgrace in 1988. The former Heritage property is now Regent Park, mainly a residential area and golf course.

Finding a way to maintain the roads in the Regent Park area, especially with the added traffic MorningStar would see with improvements, has been a key aspect of this decision. But this became a non-factor in the final vote because a settlement was reached Thursday among key players to privately pay for bringing Regent Parkway -- from U.S. 21 to the railroad tracks -- up to county standards, said Tim Sellers, attorney for Regent Park Community Owner's Association.

MorningStar Ministries Founder and Director Rick Joyner said the ministry contributed significantly to this agreement.

"Our church has between 100 and 150 families in Regent Park," Joyner told the council. "We, too, have a very serious interest in those roads, and we want to contribute our fair share. We want to see the eyesores removed too."

A few neighbors to the ministry asked the council to order the tower demolished -- as builders promised would happen more than a year ago. Susan Barone of Fort Mill pointed out the influx of traffic and disturbances the ministry and its conventions bring to the area.

"There are people cutting through the yards and knocking on doors looking for people who belong to the ministries," she said. "I didn't purchase my home to recapture my youth; I bought it to be safe."

In addition to Joyner, a former PTL member spoke at the meeting about his excitement to see the tower restored and utilized.