Judge hears arguments in Charleston cruise case


CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) --{}A state judge is telling all parties to return to court Friday as he weighs whether to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the growing cruise industry in Charleston.

Circuit Judge Clifton Newman heard more than three hours of arguments Thursday on a suit brought by city residents, environmentalists and preservationists. They allege Carnival cruise ships operating out of Charleston are a public nuisance and violate city zoning and state pollution laws.

Newman will have to weigh an issue attorneys argued at length - that is whether a cruise liner should be considered a structure governed by zoning rules when tied to the dock.

Newman wants to review the arguments and said he may have more questions for attorneys. It's unclear though whether he will rule Friday on the motion to dismiss.

The suit asks the courts to block cruise operations and declare it illegal for the State Ports Authority to create a new $35 million cruise terminal in Charleston.

The State Ports Authority said they were unable to comment on Thursday, until after the Judge gave his decision.

The looming decision had little affect on members of the Coastal Conservation League.

"Our entire goal this entire time has been to implement some measures to mitigate the negative effects so we can still have cruise ships come and visit the city as they've done since the late 60s -- that's a business that has been here a long time. We just want to make sure it is in scale with all the other facets of the city," said{}Katie Zimmerman of the Coastal Conservation League.

"What it all boils down to is there are certain measures that the cruise ships can take to avoid breaking these laws, and we think those are also really good preventative measures to keep cruise operations in balance with everything else."

A federal lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers also challenging the terminal was filed by the Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston{}last week in Washington.

*ABC News 4's Stefanie Bainum contributed to this report

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