State issues permit for $35M cruise terminal in Charleston

      By BRUCE SMITHAssociated Press{}

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- State environmental regulators have issued a permit for a $35 million cruise passenger terminal in Charleston.

      The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management issued the permit Tuesday allowing the state Ports Authority to drive pilings beneath an old riverfront warehouse for the new terminal.

      The permit was the focus of two public hearings this year that drew hundreds of people.

      DHEC director Catherine Templeton tells The Associated Press the permit incorporates an agreement between the Ports Authority and Charleston limiting the number of cruise stops to 104 a year.

      The dispute over the cruise industry has sparked lawsuits in both state and federal court. Opponents of the industry have criticized the cruise limitation agreement saying it is only voluntary and has no teeth.

      Tuesday afternoon, the state ports authority issues a statement on the permit:


      This is another positive step toward advancing Charleston's new passenger terminal, which will provide numerous benefits to the community while more efficiently supporting our port's cruise business. {}With the nationwide permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers already in hand, this OCRM permit represents the last authorization needed to move forward with constructing the new cruise terminal.While legal challenges remain, relocating the passenger terminal to the north end of Union Pier is the catalyst for the full realization of the Union Pier Concept Plan, which includes the redevelopment of 35 acres of property on the southern end of the terminal for non-maritime use.The concept plan and the terminal's design are the result of more than 100 meetings with the community and stakeholder groups as well as the approval of the City's Board of Architectural Review. The design incorporates architectural elements and influences from around Charleston, removes chain link fences, adds substantial landscaping and includes the reestablishment of Concord Street as another north-south corridor for the peninsula.We look forward to continuing work on the project under the terms of the permit. In addition, the Ports Authority's Board-approved cruise management plan enjoys the support of Charleston City Council and Mayor Riley.