Lawsuit Aims New Accusations at Council’s Garrison

Town Hall: Meeting Recordings Destroyed in Computer Crash

South Capital Group, Inc., has amended accusations it made in a $10 million lawsuit it filed on Dec. 19, 2011 against the Town of Blythewood, Town Councilman Ed Garrison and Crescent Hills and/or Crescent Partners, two companies the suit alleges were formed by Garrison.

The original complaint accused the defendants of civil conspiracy, tortuous interference with a contract and negligence involving 142.95 acres, known as Red Gate, that South Capital owned on Blythewood Road between Muller and Syrup Mill roads.

The amended complaint alleges that Councilman Ed Garrison was a member of the Town Council at the time it voted to rezone the Red Gate property from a Planned Development District zoning designation to Rural zoning and that it did so without  South Capital Group’s knowledge.

The new complaint further alleges that Garrison, who is a real estate agent and developer,  voted to rezone the property to Rural without disclosing his interest and the interest of his companies (Crescent Hills and/or Crescent Partners), in developing the property.

It was reported in the July 8, 2010 issue of The Voice that Garrison failed to recuse himself from voting on the Red Gate property at both the first (Feb. 22, 2010) and second (March 29, 2010) readings to change the zoning of the property to Rural.

While the town clerk records regular town council meetings, The Voice has learned that the recordings for these meetings are no longer available from Town Hall because a computer crashed the month following the second of the two meetings and the recordings were destroyed in the crash.

Among South Capital’s original allegations are that, in or around April, 2010, unbeknownst to South Capital Group, Inc., the Town sent a letter to Garrison and Crescent Hills and/or Crescent Partners regarding a partnership between them to include development of the Red Gate property.

The suit alleges that the defendants and others entered into an agreement to harm South Capital Group, Inc., by taking various steps to defeat their ability to utilize their property for commercial purposes, and therefore depriving them of income and profits.

The suit also alleges that:

The defendants delayed and circumvented South Capital, Inc.’s efforts to have the property zoned in accordance with representations made to them before and after the annexation.

The Town zoned the Red Gate property in a manner inconsistent with the Town’s comprehensive and master plan for development within the Town limits.

The defendants committed these conspiratorial acts for the benefit of the project proposed by Garrison and Crescent Hills and/or Crescent Partners, among and including the other alleged coconspirators, and to further the Town’s alleged partnership with Crescent Hills and/or Crescent Partners.

The property is now bankrupt and is owned by Arthur State Bank in Lexington. According to the agent handling the property, the bank acquired the property from the bankruptcy on Dec. 1, 2010.

The case has been remanded from Richland County Court of Common Pleas to the District Court of South Carolina.