An Aiken County Councilman held an informal meeting with residents on Thursday to discuss Project Jackson one-on-one.
Councilman Scott Singer, who voted against the County's participation in the extension of the Tax Incremental Financing plan for the project in March, sat down with a handful of residents to hear their concerns in a more casual manner.
The meeting took place just a few days before County Council's public hearing that will be held on Tuesday.
Council is trying to decide if it will amend its share of the financing mechanism on 457 acres with a 30-year diversion of tax revenue.
While some of the discussion went over numbers and statistics, some of the more “human” concerns came out during the meeting.
Project Jackson is a multi-million dollar plan proposed for North Augusta that includes a minor league baseball stadium. Some of the attendees live near the land in which the stadium would be constructed.
Fred Ilardi lives about 1,200 feet from the property and said he's not a fan of the idea of living near a facility that will bring in a lot of noise and traffic.
Ilardi also pointed out that the land has to be deemed “blighted” to qualify for tax incremental funding under state law.
“It's been called blighted – it's absolutely gorgeous,” Ilardi said about the property. “They're going to take beautiful property and destroy it.”
North Augusta resident Pat Donohue concurred, stating that something beautiful and charming should go onto that property, not a “big, hostile stadium.”
Singer didn't give an inkling of how he plans to vote on this item but said his role is to determine if this would be positive or negative for Aiken County residents as a whole.
From the feedback Singer's gathered, 60 percent of people from North Augusta who have contacted him are for Project Jackson. But approximately seven out of every 10 people in Aiken County who have contacted Singer are against it.
“They don't think North Augusta should be getting by on our nickel,” Singer said.
Singer said he plans to find answers to the questions of concerned residents by addressing them at Tuesday's meeting.
The public hearing will take place on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the amphitheater at Aiken Technical College.
Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010.
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