Decade-old fight over North Charleston rail line resolved

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) --{}The city of North Charleston and the state have reached a settlement that will not impact the public and will give the city some money in return.

The City of North Charleston will get about $15 million out of the agreement with the state.{}

According to a statement released by Gov. Nikki Haley's office, the deal allows the state to offer access to rail access to the Port of Charleston through an intermodal rail yard located on the old Naval Base.{}

"With today's vote by North Charleston City Council, everyone in South Carolina wins," said South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. "First, let me thank Mayor Summey and Secretary Bobby Hitt, who have done a tremendous service to our state by bringing us to this point. South Carolina as a whole is now positioned to even further benefit from our world-class port and the expansion of the Panama Canal -- it truly is a great day in South Carolina."

Almost a year ago, the city sued the state in an effort to keep it from taking public land. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said the commerce department violated a 10-year agreement that prohibits the addition of rail lines to a new port terminal.{}

The state has wanted to build a rail yard near the old Naval Base. In the past, supporters have said that a dual-rail access plan could mean more money for the entire area.{}

"They need to understand that at the end of the day, this is going to be an economic boom not just for us but forCsouth Carolina. The port is imperative to growth and we hope that his will help them move in the direction," Summey said.{}

Summey released an open letter to the city after the decision was reached.

"We were able to stop approximately half, but not all, of the rail from being placed on land at the{}former Navy Base. We did have to yield and allow northern rail access. Keep in mind that rail{}off the base is subject to federal jurisdiction and was never something the City could control. I{}believe that rail line reduction on the former Navy Base, along with other concessions made by{}the South Carolina Department of Commerce, will allow for appropriate mitigation for ill effects{}of increased rail traffic through our community," he wrote.

There will be a town hall meeting at City Hall on Wednesday at 6 p.m. for the public to get additional information about the rail agreement.

Key elements of the settlement include:

An exchange of property between North Charleston and Public Railways that divides property at the former naval base so that North Charleston controls the property closest to the waterfront that is best suited for residential and recreational development, while Public Railways retains property required to implement the rail yard and associated rail lines, as well as other property best suited for industrial and economic development.

Payments to North Charleston by Public Railways from privately-generated revenues available for capital projects, including $8 million paid in $2 million installments over four years and assumption of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) bond debt associated with the former Noisette acreage acquired by Public Railways.

A comprehensive surface transportation study to identify impacts of rail and highway traffic related to state port and rail operations throughout North Charleston. Public Railways, the State Ports Authority, the South Carolina Department of Transportation and North Charleston will equally fund the study that will identify the infrastructure required to mitigate these impacts.

Administrative support by the City of North Charleston for rezoning, permitting, and other issues needed to implement the rail yard, resolve existing rail and other related issues, and attract new investment and jobs to the former Charleston Naval Base.