South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Group appeals judge's ruling over Charleston cruise terminal
April 22nd, 2014

Neighborhood associations and preservationists are seeking to overturn a state judge's recent decision that tossed out a lawsuit challenging plans for a new cruise ship terminal in downtown Charleston.

The appeal, filed this week with state Court of Appeals, seeks to overturn an April 11 order by S.C. Administrative Law Judge Ralph Anderson III.

Anderson concluded that the groups lacked standing to challenge state permits for a new $35 million cruise terminal the State Ports Authority is trying to open in an old warehouse at the north end of Union Pier.

Anderson's decision said the group "made many allegations and conclusory statements, but have failed to set forth specific, admissible facts to support their allegations and statements."

Blan Holman, a Southern Environmental Law Center attorney representing two of the groups, challenged that statement Tuesday.

"Saying that a woman whose throat burns when a cloud of carcinogenic exhaust envelopes her cannot protect herself and seek cleaner air sounds like something from the Soviet Union, not this country," he said. "This is an unprecedented erosion of citizen rights that we intend to reverse on


Erin Pabst, a spokeswoman for SPA, declined to comment about the group's appeal.

The SPA intended to replaced its aging cruise terminal at the south end of Union Pier near the City Market with a new facility by mid-2012. The latest concept was unveiled in February 2010 but it has been delayed by lawsuits.

In February 2013, project opponents asked the Administrative Law Court, which handles disputes involving state agencies, to review the approval of a permit from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control that allowed pile driving at the proposed waterfront site.

Lawyers for the opponents of the proposed site have said the lawsuit was filed over claims that DHEC didn't extensively review the issue before issuing the permit. They alleged that the agency's decision violated the S.C. Coastal Zone Management Act and the Coastal Management Program.

Anderson's ruling also came roughly a month after he issued sanctions against the coalition, ordering them to pay $9,300 to the SPA for legal fees.

Anderson sided with SPA's request for sanctions and dismissal of the lawsuit.

The state agency alleged in a court filing that the lawsuit was "frivolous, lacked any reasonable or defensible grounds of support, and was filed solely for the purpose of delay."

It is one of three recent legal cases challenging extended cruise operations in downtown Charleston. The S.C. Supreme Court earlier this year dismissed a lawsuit alleging Carnival Cruise Lines' operations are a nuisance to city residents.

In a separate case, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled last year that the Army Corps of Engineers failed to review the effects the SPA's cruise terminal project would have on the historic district. Gergel ordered the federal permitting agency to redo its study with a more extensive review.

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