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York County responds to MorningStar lawsuit: Tower a 'nuisance'

York County officials say the MorningStar Ministries tower in Fort Mill – once part of Heritage USA – is unsafe and should be torn down, according to court documents filed this week.

MorningStar sued York County in late January, disputing that it has defaulted on an agreement to renovate the tower – once intended to serve as a hotel in Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Heritage USA religious resort and theme park.

The county and MorningStar entered a development agreement in 2008 in a move to repair the tower.

The 21-story tower is a “nuisance,” according to York County’s response to the lawsuit that was filed on Tuesday. The county says MorningStar should pay for the demolition costs.

MorningStar, however, says the tower is “remarkably sound from a structural and engineering standpoint,” according to a news release in January.

The county and some neighbors near the MorningStar property contend that the tower isn’t safe.

One Fort Mill-area resident, Eric Kinsinger, started an online group called “Tear Down The Tower.”

Over the past few months, neighbors have taken their complaints to the York County Council about the organization’s road, saying the street is full of potholes. County officials have said they do not have jurisdiction to demand maintenance on private roads.

MorningStar has allowed its property to fall into a condition that “substantially and unreasonably” interferes with “public health, safety, peace, comfort, (and) convenience,” according to York County’s suit.

Last week, York County issued a “stop work” notice to MorningStar when the group started to demolish its Kings Castle – another relic from the Heritage USA theme park plans.

MorningStar’s leader Rick Joyner said the castle was being torn down to make room for something “the whole community could use,” such as a dog park.

State and local officials say MorningStar did not have the necessary demolition permit to tear down the castle.

Anna Douglas: 803-329-4068
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