Posts Tagged charleston

State Appeal Hearing… Thank you SELC & SCELP!!

Thanks to ALL those who attended! We took up most of the courtroom….Here is the full article:

 

TOP STORY

Appeals court hears argument on cruise ships in Charleston

COLUMBIA — The state Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday in the long-running debate over a new cruise ship terminal in Charleston’s Historic District.

There is no deadline for the court to make its ruling, and it could take a year or more.

The arguments centered on whether the Preservation Society of Charleston, Coastal Conservation League and residents of the city’s historic district have the right to sue the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control for issuing a 2012 permit to the State Ports Authority for support pilings beneath an old warehouse at Union Pier.

That is where the Ports Authority wants to build a new, larger terminal for cruise ships, about 100 feet north of its current terminal.

The group of preservationists and conservationists filed a lawsuit challenging DHEC’s permit because they feel a larger terminal in the Historic District would exacerbate problems like pollution and traffic.

A state Administrative Law Court judge previously ruled the groups did not have a right to sue. Those groups filed their appeal in 2014, but the appeals court delayed hearing the oral arguments repeatedly.

Blan Holman, a lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center representing the plaintiffs, reiterated concerns about the proposed terminal Wednesday to the panel of three judges. He said if residents may challenge a permit for a liquor store near their homes, they also should be allowed to challenge a permit for a large cruise ship terminal nearby.

“These are not cargo ships. They are floating towns with more people than Sullivan’s Island,” Holman said.

He added that residents who live near the docked ships deal with soot from the exhaust pipes in the air and on their properties, potentially harming their health.

“These people are experiencing harm directly on their person and in their homes,” he said. “They are entitled to have a hearing from an administrative law judge.”

Attorney Chad Johnston of Willoughby & Hoefer PA of Columbia represented the SPA. He said the Administrative Law Court was right to dismiss the lawsuit because those residents and groups will not be harmed by future cruise ship operations.

“The Ports Authority submits that the cruise industry is a valuable part of its business model, and it will continue to accept cruise ships at its current location or at the new one, regardless of what happens in this case,” Johnston said.

 In addition to the state permit, the Ports Authority also needs a federal permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with the new terminal. A previous federal permit application was tossed out by U.S. District Judge Gergel, who ruled that it did not properly consider the impacts the new facility would have on the city’s Historic District.

The Army Corps is now reviewing a new application.

Bradley Churdar, DHEC’s attorney, argued Wednesday that the state’s permit should not be vacated simply because a previous federal permit had been. He also said the Administrative Law Court decision is not subject to appeal.

Chief Judge James E. Lockemy asked Holman what he thought might happen if that court’s ruling is upheld.

“I believe if we were found to not have standing … we would have fewer rights than the person who challenges the liquor store on the corner,” Holman said. “It’s taking away these taxpaying, property-holding citizens’ rights to participate in an administrative process.”

[divider_top]

CHS | Vote Tuesday… Charleston’s future is at stake

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Charleston’s mayoral election.  The City is at a crossroads.   Traffic congestion has worsened; May is now gridlock.   Hundreds of new hotel rooms have just been built, and hundreds more have been permitted or are in the queue, yet no one has studied their impact.  A proposed new cruise terminal looms, one that the head of the State Ports Authority admits would be “like an airport,” yet the current mayor has no interest in moving it from the Historic District or mitigating any of the impacts.  Most importantly, no one but this blog will report on how lifting the embargo against Cuba, once formalized, will increase cruise passenger traffic in and out of Charleston’s harbor.  
 
Major developments including recent (and potentially proposed) Sergeant Jasper, the West Edge, the new Children’s Hospital and others will lock up traffic on Lockwood Boulevard and make the commute to West Ashley almost impossible.  The only proposed solution…bike lanes…   The flooding, the aging infrastructure, the crumbling Battery wall…
What we do not need is another mayor who will continue to look the other way.  We need a mayor who will hit the pause button on growth and development-at-any-cost and pull out one of the many thoughtful plans and begin to work with the community on real solutions.
 
The Charleston Mercury believes “one candidate stands out from the group; he is civic leader and businessman John Tecklenburg. Mr. Tecklenburg crossed the Rubicon of Charleston politics when he decided to oppose the Beach Company’s plans to redevelop the Sergeant Jasper Apartments. He stood up to a longstanding ally and took a path of principle that endeared his candidacy to many Charlestonians. This is not the place to re-launch that tug of war, but it boiled down to a candidate showing clearly that he has ears to hear his constituents.”(1)
 
Endorsing John Tecklenburg, The Post and Courier admits that the next mayor “will have his hands full,” but says “Mr. Tecklenburg recognizes the challenges, and has the ability, experience and temperament to meet them effectively. He is a retired business executive, and he served for eight years as Mayor Joe Riley’s director of economic development. The affable Mr. Tecklenburg will bring a thoughtful approach to a difficult job.”  
 
What will he do?  Tecklenburg “calls for a moratorium on new hotel construction until restrictions can be put into place in consultation with residents, historic preservation groups and neighborhood associations. He would similarly invoke a ‘pause’ in approving special events that increasingly cause traffic, parking problems and noise in city neighborhoods,” editorialized the P&C, and quoted Tecklenburg saying that “we need to redirect our focus on the things that affect our livability.”  “Those things,” writes the P&C, “include housing affordability, traffic management and improved transportation. He would encourage city incentives for affordable housing, and would urge the Charleston Housing Authority to provide additional units for low-income people through better utilization of the agency’s land holdings.”(2)  And Tecklenburg would do a much-needed performance audit on all city departments to ensure we’re getting our money’s worth (long overdue, by the way).  
 
John Tecklenburg promises to work with other jurisdictions to create regional solutions for planning, transportation, and mass transit.
 
Only one candidate has run a positive campaign, and only one candidate has offered a comprehensive plan for making Charleston livable in the future, Charleston native John Tecklenburg.  We join The Mercury, The Post and Courier, Charleston Currents (3), Ginny Deerin, Henry Fishburne, Sen. Robert Ford and many others endorsing JOHN TECKLENBURG for Mayor.  Please be sure to VOTE.
Jay
#  #   #
 
 
1) Charleston Mercury endorsement:
 
2) Post and Courier’s endorsement:
 
3) Charleston Currents endorsement:
[divider_top]

CHS | That proposed Cruise Terminal – Where are we now?

Two years ago, United States District Court Judge Richard Gergel handed the cruise terminal opponents their first victory, tossing the SPA’s federal permit to build a proposed $35 million terminal at Union Pier and blasting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to adequately review the project’s effects on the area saying, “I think you did an end run. You gave this permit a bum’s rush.”

This time around, the Corps promises a thorough job.

The battle lines are being drawn. At the first “consultation process” hearing on October 22, the APE, or “Area of Potential Effects,” became the focus. Participants responded to a series of questions about the impacts on Charleston’s buildings on the National Historic Register and its National Historic Landmark status.

The SPA argued that the APE must be tightly drawn around the terminal property. “Not so fast,” opponents say. Cars, buses and taxis must travel through the Historic District creating immense traffic just to transport passengers to the terminal; the smog, soot and noise drifts well beyond the terminal compromising homes and human health; and cruise passengers swarm like ants over the City causing congestion and impacts well beyond the terminal area.

Yet SPA CEO Jim Newsome reiterated his claim that cruise ships are part of Charleston’s history. He said that cruise ships are “maritime commerce,” meaning that passengers aren’t tourists and can’t be regulated. If they visit the Historic District, he asserted, that’s just incidental. The SPA’s contracted study claims that only four to six percent of tourism comes from cruise passengers.

Meanwhile, Mayor Joseph Riley professed that cruise ships are good for Charleston, that redevelopment of the Southern portion of Union Pier would be a boon to the City.

Opponents of these assertions were ready.

Historic Charleston Foundation’s Christopher Cody showed historic photos of ships in the harbor and said “it’s improbable that historically more than a few hundred passengers per day would have used Charleston’s port.” Thousands of cruise passengers, “potentially over 7,000 at a time, represent a new use of the harbor and a concentrated intrusion that’s inappropriate for our historic district’s scale and layout. Just because cruise ships are boats doesn’t automatically make them related to our traditions of maritime commerce.”

“We believe the impacts cannot be limited to the fence line of the Port property,” said Kristopher King, Executive Director of The Preservation Society, because the court directed the Corps to “consider both the direct and indirect effects on historic properties within and outside the permit area.” King also cited the SPA’s own Brockington Associates study that admits that “cruise passengers will represent 25-40 percent of vehicular traffic in the Historic District” when those ships are in town.

Interviewed later, King added, “The Corps must consider direct and indirect impacts on the use and character of our National Landmark District consisting mainly of single family dwellings which the SPA’s historic assessment admits may be impacted.”

Other meetings will be scheduled, and we will update you.

 

Written by jwilliams
The Charleston Cruise Control Blog, written by Jay Williams, Jr., published periodically since May, 2011, consists of opinions and discussions about cruise ship tourism. Although Jay is involved with various local organizations, the opinions he expresses are solely his; they do not represent the views of any organization or other individual.  Mr. Williams is an independent blogger/writer. We present these blogs for C4 website visitors as an information source and as an additional way to chronologically follow the debates, commentaries and discussions about cruise tourism in Charleston.

[divider_top] [divider_top] [divider_top] [divider_top]

See the mayoral candidates’ responses to the Coastal Conservation League’s question about “cruise control.”

See the mayoral candidates’ responses to the Coastal Conservation League’s question about “cruise control.” Stavrinakis: Stavrinakis declined the League’s invitation to participate in the one-hour interview.

Ginny Deerin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70wbkvV5Zto

William Dudley Gregorie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh-3c5QgQhc

Toby Smith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qskM84z6cI4

John Tecklenburg: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl1C3W27-EY

Paul Tinkler: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imMhK0i5124

Maurice Washington: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPmbfFZXfBM

[divider_top]

Port Love | If You Were Mayor

Port Love

Jun 30, 2015 by Whitney Powers

We applaud the Ports Authority for their $5 million investment to be used for the purchase and protection of land along the Cooper River watershed to mitigate the potential effects of deepening Charleston Harbor. The agreement, made earlier this year, was reached in collaboration with the Lowcountry Open Land Trust, the Coastal Conservation League, and the Southern Environmental Law Center. This type of cooperative work can make our city and port even better.

 

SOME HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The port has existed here for virtually as long as the settlement of Charleston.  Today, the port consists of five public marine terminals and is owned and operated by the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), a self-governing entity created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1942, with board members appointed by the state’s Governor and confirmed by the State Senate.

 

The historical significance of the port is illustrated by Charleston’s colorful maritime history, with many of the city’s earliest historic structures having been constructed as businesses associated with port operations – cooperages (barrels are the original “containers”), smithies, stevedoring companies, warehouses, etc.  The city’s historic waterfront, now a public promenade and park, was once marked by numerous wharfs, hundreds of masts of sailing vessels, shipbuilding, and provisioning operations. If other myths hold any truth, numerous of the city’s earliest streets and walks were constructed from ballast recycled from ships loaded with items destined for global destinations, including indigo, rice, and cotton.

 

This early Charleston invited people of many backgrounds, often unwelcome in other parts of the world, who found their way here for economic opportunities – French, Scottish, Irish, and German, as well as Jews and Catholics. Sephardic Jews (of Spanish and Portugese ancestry) migrated to the city in such numbers that Charleston became one of the largest Jewish communities in North America (see maritimeheritage.org). From the late 18th through the 19th century Charleston also served as the most active port in the trade of slaves in America, and many Africans, free and slave, lived here outnumbering white residents by a long shot. (see this animated map illustrating the slave trade that is generated from data at slavevoyages.org).

 

THE PRESENT

Today, the port’s focus is the movement of containerized shipments and passenger vehicles; and, it consistently ranks in the top 5 of the nation’s containerized ports. Jobs at the port have long been a fundamental source of well-paying, stable jobs in the Charleston region as evidenced by the success represented by the members of such organizations as the International Longshoremen’s Association and the Charleston Branch Pilots Association. Basically, its operations employ “hundreds of thousands” and generate “in excess of $45 billion per year” in economic impacts.

 

The port’s mission, as one would expect, is largely focused on the bottom-line, especially as it faces fierce competition from other nearby ports in Savannah and Jacksonville:

“The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) promotes, develops, and facilitates waterborne commerce to meet the current and future needs of its customers, and for the economic benefit of the citizens and businesses of South Carolina. The SCPA fulfills this mission by delivering cost competitive facilities and services, collaborating with customers and stakeholders, and sustaining its financial self-sufficiency.”

 

Sometimes, adherence to this mission runs up against the interests of many who live in proximity to port facilities. The Port Authority has made many efforts to be responsive to local concerns, but with growth in cruise ship traffic in recent years, the local population has increasingly questioned the port’s intentions and its future. Port officials point to their efforts at downtown’s Union Pier to modernize the passenger terminal facilities, including development of parking facilities and completing road connectivity in the vicinity, to mitigate impacts of the embarkation of cruise ships. The community calls for more controls, including the use of shore power when in port and limitations on the number of cruise ship visits during the course of the year. The port recognizes that cultivating and fostering the community is key to the success of its cruise business. However, at this stage, the back-and-forth has mired everyone in lawsuits and there is frustration on all sides.

 

AN EXAMPLE FROM ABROAD

A year ago, I traveled to Amsterdam with my daughter and visited the National Maritime Museum of the Netherlands, Het Scheepvaartmuseum. Recognizing that Rotterdam was the largest container port outside of China, I was curious how this museum portrayed this vital industry through their history and how they reconciled this history with the future. The historic exhibits were fascinating – the Dutch essentially invented the concept of container transport – and, in one instance, frightening. Slave Trade: The Dark Chapter (see NYTimes review here), underscored that trade’s horrors through installations focused on the slave ship Leusden which sank in Suriname, South America, in 1738. After the ship ran aground, the ship’s captain ordered the “cargo” to be secured in the hold to ensure the investors received an insurance settlement for the loss, and almost 700 African men, women, and children drowned. If there was one thing you could take away from the exhibit, the Dutch do not shirk the dark side of their shipping history.

 

The final exhibit in the museum, a film projection, took visitors on to the docks and aboard ship from the point of view of a container, and focused on aspects of shipping that Rotterdam uses to distinguish its competitive edge: efficiency, safety, and sustainability.

 

This seems an interesting triumvirate to success, and is reflected in the port’s strategic plan, Port Compass 2030 (a synopsis in English is here). This document, developed in cooperation with the municipal government, port business association, provincial government, and national government, focuses on ten priorities ranging from infrastructure development to cultivating education geared towards employment. An annual report keeps all stakeholders informed as to the progress (or lack of progress) in each category.

 

Digging a bit more, one finds a somewhat different mission statement than that of the SCPA: “The Port of Rotterdam Authority develops, in partnership, the world-class European port.”  The port’s website corroborates the exhibit’s message: “We continuously improve the Port of Rotterdam, to make it the most efficient, safe, and sustainable port in the world…”

 

THE FUTURE 

Theirs may seem a rather basic inconclusive mission, but there is also a distinction in Rotterdam’s governance that might be a more significant clue to how Charleston’s port might consider serving the community interests along with those commercial goals of the state: “The Port of Rotterdam Authority is an autonomous company with two shareholders, the municipality of Rotterdam and the Dutch state.”

 

Could the South Carolina Ports Authority in Charleston benefit from a Board of Directors that includes representatives who serve at the behest of the communities most impacted by the port operations? A thriving Charleston benefits most from a thriving, economically viable port relationship. It might be time to consider more ways to deepen the ties that bind us to our historic port, cultivate more ways to foster the resources that we share, and find economic opportunities that can create a competitive edge that is distinctive and adds value for the port’s customers.

[divider_top]

New terminal site worth a look | Editorial

New terminal site worth a look
The Post and Courier

Neighbors, preservationists, environmentalists, physicians, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and even the S.C. Supreme Court have said that the cruise industry is making problems for Historic Charleston.

Now the city Planning Commission has joined the chorus. It is a disappointment and a puzzlement that Mayor Joe Riley has said the recommendation is not even worth considering.

In its meeting Monday to consider proposed changes to the city’s Tourism Management Plan, the Planning Commission surprised the audience by voting 8-1 in favor of reconsidering the site for the new State Ports Authority passenger terminal.

Instead of simply approving the plan, the commission added a stipulation: Consider a site farther away from the city’s congested historic district.

It’s a worthy suggestion and one that the mayor and Charleston City Council should examine seriously when the issue is considered on May 12.

The mayor’s deaf ear on this issue has angered residents, who have been saying for years that cruise ships need to be regulated and that the site of a new passenger terminal needs to be moved.

The mayor has contended that complaints about traffic, congestion, air pollution and noise are exaggerated, unfounded and even elitist.

The SPA contends that it has already investigated alternate sites and chosen Union Pier because it works best. But the public has not been privy to that report, and it should be.

Further, if the SPA is to reapply for a federal permit to drive piles for the terminal, providing such a report will likely be required. So why not go ahead and share the information?

City Council needs to stand up for what is in the best interest of the city and its residents. One factor to take into account is that the tourism management recommendations include construction of a second visitors center farther north on the peninsula. A passenger terminal farther up the river might dovetail nicely.

Planning Commission Chairman Francis X. McCann said at the meeting that the city has the luxury of taking a breather on the subject. The SPA’s construction plans are on hold due to a court ruling. Meanwhile, it has become clear that cruise ships have not grown the local economy as the SPA predicted.

During that lull, city residents should expect that an independent, objective, comprehensive study be done on something as important as the terminal site — and that the full study be made public.

The new guidelines regarding cruise ships, if accepted, ask for four things: remote parking for passengers; shore power to cut down on air pollution from ships running their engines while at dock; a head tax to help reimburse the city for expenses associated with cruises; and a strengthening of the regulations limiting the number and size of cruise ships in Charleston.

Those are all reasonable recommendations, and the location of the terminal is every bit as important to the city of Charleston — particularly its historic area. Maybe more so.

Mr. McCann said that earnest negotiations are not too much to ask of the SPA. He also said that it’s time for Charleston’s leadership to concede that there is not a city in the country or in the world that has benefited culturally from having a cruise terminal in a historic area.

The Planning Commission correctly acknowledged the hard work of the many people who contributed to the Tourism Management Plan. That plan offers insightful and helpful ways to protect the city’s livability amid the strains of fast-increasing tourism. Its recommendation to reconsider locating the terminal up the river should be viewed as an enhancement to the larger plan.

The mayor and City Council have so far been cavalier about their constituents’ concerns and have simply accepted the SPA’s option as presented. But they have offered no acceptable reasons not to negotiate with the SPA to ensure that the terminal site is best for the city as well as for the SPA.

[divider_top]

Planning Commission wants city to find alternative site for cruise terminal

Charleston’s long-awaited tourism management plan got a green light to move forward Monday provided city leaders look for an alternative to Union Pier as the site of a new cruise ship terminal.

The city’s Planning Commission voted 8-1 to recommend to City Council that it approve the plan, with the condition that Council consider a new site for the terminal farther away from the city’s historic district. Dozens of people attended the meeting at the Charleston County Public Library on Calhoun Street.

Horse-drawn carriages and cars, both parked and on the move, share space on lower Meeting Street. Wade Spees/Staff

City leaders, with the help of a 27-member committee, have been working since December 2013 to update the plan, which hasn’t been updated since 1998. It strives to balance the needs of a strong tourism industry with residents’ concerns.

Tourism is a huge industry in Charleston, said city planning director Tim Keane. Visitors make up 16 percent of the city’s economy. And the industry is growing. The city had 2544 hotel rooms in 1995. Today, it has more than 3,569.

The plan addresses: tourism management and enforcement, visitor orientation, quality of life, special events and mobility and transportation.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said City Council approved the plan for the new terminal on Union Pier four years ago. And it won’t cause traffic congestion, he said, because Concord Street will be opened up and traffic will flow more smoothly.

Council isn’t required to follow the Planning Commission’s recommendation.

Carrie Agnew, executive director of Charleston Communities for Cruise Control, during the public comment portion of the meeting said “We need to re-establish the delicate balance between tourism and the people who live here.”

She remembers a time when she lived on Hassell Street and had to participate in a conference call in her bathroom because a cruise ship had just arrived and there was so much noise she couldn’t hear the call.

And a cruise terminal at Union Pier will make noise and traffic congestion worse, she said. “It absolutely should not be in the historic district.”

Cruise ship supporters have said the industry is an important part of the Lowcountry’s larger tourism economy and a source of jobs.

Opponents said they don’t want to ban all cruise ships, but they want the authority to consider sites other than Union Pier, and sites farther from the city’s historic district, for its new cruise ship terminal. Legal wrangling over that site — the 60 acres between Market, Washington and Laurens streets and the harbor — has slowed the state’s plans to redevelop the blighted area.

Traffic congestion related to tourism was another major concern raised at the meeting.

Keane said one of the key parts of the plan is to build a new visitors center farther north on the peninsula. People can park there and take public transportation to the historic district, he said. That should help alleviate some of the tourist traffic problems.

City Council must approve the plan. It will hold a public hearing and vote on initial approval on May 12. It will vote on whether to give the plan final approval May 26.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.

[divider_top]