Gregorie looking for assurances on limits of the number of cruise ships
Charleston City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie said Wednesday he will try to get a more binding agreement with the State Ports Authority regarding the number of cruise ships that may visit here.
Gregorie, who also is running for mayor, floated his idea to City Council on Tuesday, then pulled it from the agenda.
The agreement would have reiterated the voluntary limits of no more than 104 cruise-ship visits, with no more than one ship tied up at a time. It is unclear if it would be any more legally enforceable.
"I know of no business that does things of this magnitude with a handshake and a promise," Gregorie said. "What I'm looking for is some assurances from the SPA to the city."
SPA spokesman Byron Miller called the proposed agreement "completely worthless and unnecessary." He noted that the state House and Senate have passed resolutions recently supporting Carnival Cruise Lines.
"The city is a museum in and of itself," one resolution states, "a treasure that should be shared, not sheltered."
The cruise ship debate has remained a dominant theme of city politics for more than a year.
The city and state have agreed that there should be no more than 104 cruise ships calling on Charleston in a given year, but some cruise ship opponents have said that the agreement isn't legally binding and that the Ports Authority has a financial interest in maximizing cruise traffic here.
Last week, two downtown neighborhoods and other groups filed suit against Carnival Cruise Lines in the Charleston County Court of Common Pleas, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation publicly expressed its concern about potential adverse effects from ever more cruise ships here.
"I was attempting to try to get us off the 'watch list' for endangered cities," Gregorie said, adding that he has no firm timetable at this point as far as when he might provide another proposal to City Council.
Councilman Dean Riegel said Gregorie did not have the votes to pass anything Tuesday, and Riegel said the port has agreed to voluntary limits so the city doesn't need to do anything else.
"The law becomes one of supply and demand," he said, adding that Gregorie's proposal is "a non-issue."
During the meeting, SPA CEO Jim Newsome updated council on the redevelopment of Union Pier, which will include a new cruise ship terminal north of the current passenger terminal site.
Some area residents want to the new cruise terminal moved even farther north, but Miller said that's off the table.
"Do you want to have 5,000 feet of chain-link fence (at Union Pier) or a much more reduced industrial activity on the peninsula with a site that looks and feels like Charleston?" Miller asked. "That's the only choice."