Charleston Cruise Terminal Dispute in the Hands of Court, Army Corps
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A protracted dispute between South Carolina’s Ports Authority and local groups regarding a proposed cruise ship terminal in Charleston, SC will be sorted out in the coming months by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Carolina Court of Appeals, according to the Associated Press.
The Ports Authority’s $35 million vision has the terminal constructed in a renovated waterside warehouse, and they need a federal permit to install five clusters of pilings below this structure, adding to the 1,000-plus pilings already in place, the AP said.
Members of what the AP called “preservation, conservation and community groups,” have opposed the new terminal since it was first proposed five years ago, citing congestion, pollution and a decline in property values.
An initial permit was issued to the Ports Authority in 2012, but was thrown out after being challenged in federal court. The judge indicated that the impact on historic Charleston had not been considered, according to the AP.
With the Ports Authority seeking this new permit, the Army Corps of Engineers will be evaluating the plan, the AP said, and the Corps received hundreds of comments from the public and some 40,000 pages of documents from the Ports Authority.
Corps spokesman Sean McBride said to the AP that the comments will be taken into account before deciding to compile a full environmental impact statement —a yearlong process.
Attorneys for the Southern Environmental Law Center, representatives for two groups opposing the terminal, were commenters, and submitted a statement which said in part, "If these 40,000 pages show anything, it is that a project of this magnitude, and at this location, will have a significant impact on the human environment," the AP said.
Alternatives put forth by the attorneys, according to the AP, included renovating the existing terminal or building the new terminal upriver in North Charleston. A challenge to the state permit will be heard by the Court of Appeals later in the year, with oral arguments beginning the second week in December.
A state administrative law judge did uphold the state piling permit last year, stating that opponents failed to present "specific, admissible facts to support their allegations and statements" regarding harm that could come to Charleston via the terminal, according to the AP. Opposition groups immediately appealed.
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