Judge tosses federal permit for SC cruise terminal

Proposed cruise terminal (File)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - A judge has tossed out a federal permit for a proposed $35 million cruise terminal in Charleston, saying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately review the project impacts.

The decision Thursday by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel is a victory for neighborhood and preservation groups opposed to Charleston's expanded cruise industry.

Those groups sued saying the Corps needed to do a more extensive review of impacts on the environment and the city's historic district. The Corps said that installing five clusters of pilings beneath a building already used for maritime purposed would have little impact.

But Gergel says the analysis was flawed by limiting it to installing piers. He says he's issuing an order sending the permit back to the Corps for a wider review.

"We're now awaiting the judge's final order, and after review of the order, we will consult with the Corps of Engineers concerning next steps going forward. In the meantime, the Ports Authority will continue to operate our cruise facility in accordance with the voluntary cruise management plan, which has the approval of Mayor Riley and City Council," the Ports Authority said in a statement.

"We will await the Judge's formal ruling and the Corps of Engineers response. In any event, we are confident that the permit to drive five additional pilings will be approved as it is justified. If the further analysis is required, we are confident that the permit will be supported," Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said.

The state supreme court scheduled a hearing for the lawsuit regarding the proposed cruise terminal for Nov. 19.