York County claims Heritage Tower should have come down in 2013

This comes after MorningStar recently said it would redevelop the tower into an active adult community.
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 7:44 AM EDT
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FORT MILL, S.C. (WBTV) - The Heritage Tower on the old PTL Ministries site in York County is once again making headlines.

A five-page news release from the county claims the 35-year-old tower now owned by MorningStar Ministries legally should have come down back in 2013.

“MorningStar has never presented any evidence that York County has treated MorningStar differently than other developers of commercial property,” a portion of the county’s news release stated. “In fact, York County has shown significant patience with regard to the Tower, particularly since, contractually, the Tower should have been demolished as of 2013, at the latest. In addition, since 2006, York County has approved approximately 144 building permit applications submitted by MorningStar related to projects other than the Tower.”

The county stated it has done nothing to deny MorningStar the right to develop its own property. York County leaders said all they’ve asked is that the group does so “in the same manner required of any other developer in a similar situation in order to ensure the safety, health, and welfare of citizens and residents.”

This comes after MorningStar recently said it would redevelop the tower into an active adult community.

Related: MorningStar Ministries to hold groundbreaking on Heritage Tower in Fort Mill

Earlier this month, MorningStar also filed a legal motion saying a county attorney violated procedural rules by not consulting with the church group prior to filing a motion to restore a legal case against the group.

In its newest release, the county insists the back-and-forth is not a religious battle but comes back to legal agreements and the safety of the community when it comes to decaying buildings.

The building is at the center of a controversy that started back in 1987.

The site was supposed to be the centerpiece of Praise The Lord’s Christian theme park but the concept crumbled when leader Jim Bakker resigned.

MorningStar Ministries bought the unfinished property from PTL and have fought various legal battles with the county to develop the grounds.

Related: MorningStar Ministries pleads with York County to drop lawsuit, allow them to build Heritage Tower

MorningStar wants to turn the spot into an active adult community for people in their church ages 50 and up. They say they already started working with contractors and developers on the project when they found out the county was re-instating their lawsuit in August of 2021.

While those in opposition question the building’s safety and say it’s been an eyesore for 30 years, members of the church say the county has already spent $330,000 with ongoing lawsuits, claim the building is structurally sound and say all they want is a place where they can live together.

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