Officials report progress in talks over Fort Mill land

adouglas@heraldonline.comMarch 28, 2014 

After spending Thursday behind closed doors in settlement talks, officials with York County and the Culture and Heritage Foundation said progress had been made through mediation to try to avoid continuing a court battle.

The county, and the foundation it is suing, are trying to settle an ongoing lawsuit over nearly 300 acres of donated land along the Catawba River which is expected to be sold to a development firm for $10 million.

York County Council chairman Britt Blackwell told The Herald that Thursday’s mediation was “a positive meeting.” Resolution could be in sight, he said, but the county still needs “proper accounting” of donated assets and spending from the foundation.

Blackwell did not attend the mediation session in Greenville, he said, but fellow Councilman Chad Williams did attend. Councilman Michael Johnson participated via tele-conference.

The foundation’s attorney, Jim Sheedy, told The Herald that “progress was made and the parties are still working toward resolution.”

Sheedy did not comment further, citing state legal rules that govern public discussion about mediation proceedings.

York County has spent more than $140,000 in its legal fight against the foundation.

The disputed donated land is a major part of the county’s lawsuit. The 274 acres – located in Fort Mill, near Sutton Road and Interstate 77 – is the remaining portion of an original 400-acre gift from Jane Spratt McColl and her family. Before the county filed its suit, foundation officials offered to settle years of arguing by sharing the proceeds from the donated land with York County’s museum system.

Neither side revealed specifics about Thursday’s settlement talks. Earlier this month, sources told The Herald that some members of the County Council would seek up to $10 million to drop the lawsuit. Other sources said some councilmen are seeking more than $10 million.

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