A group of Port Royal residents is suing the State Ports Authority, claiming the agency has mismanaged the sale of its now-shuttered property in Beaufort County.
The Beaufort Gazette reported Monday that the county and town claim they’ve lost more than $7 million in property tax revenue because of the state’s lack of action in selling the site. The former port has been closed since 2004. Three attempts to sell it have fallen through.
The lawsuit filed by area developer Dick Stewart and others claims the Ports Authority (SPA) has failed to follow the “Prudent Man Rule,” a common law term that requires a property’s trustees to invest in or maintain their property or estate in the same way a prudent perons would invest in his or her own property. The lawsuit claims the Ports Authority has allowed buildings on the property to deteriorate due to weather exposure and has rejected offers that met all state requirements needed to purchase the site. Stewart is one of the developers who had expressed interest in the site along Battery Creek.
The lawsuit also says the failure to sell the property has hurt the town’s economy. “The SPA’s failure… combined with it (sic) mismanagement of the assets raises real concerns that the SPA has not only failed to follow the law but has intentionally by deed and word… created circumstances that prevented the required sale to occur,” the lawsuit stated.
A Ports Authority spokeswoman said the claim has no merit, but added she could not comment further due to the pending litigation.
Earlier this year, state legislators passed looser requirements that allow the Ports Authority to accept bids at 80 percent below the appraised property price and break the property into smaller parcels. If a deal is not in place by June 2015, the property will be offered for sale at auction.