State regulators Friday asked for more public comment on Charleston’s proposed $35 million passenger cruise ship terminal, which could delay a decision on a permit until late fall.
The state Deaprtment of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management issued a public notice seeking comment on revisions to the State Ports Authority plan to build the new terminal in an old warehouse at the north end of Union Pier.
Originally, the SPA applied for a permit to drive pilings into the riverfront beneath the terminal to support elevators. The revisions, which reopened the public-comment period, include some changes to the building and proposed covered areas to handle passengers and baggage outside.
Comments on the revised application will be taken through Sept. 2. After that, there will likely be another public hearing, said OCRM spokesman Dan Burger. He said a decision is expected within 90 days of the end of the comment period, which could mean as late as Dec. 1.
In reviewing the permit, the agency said last week it sought additional information about the impact of cruise ships and their effect on property values in Charleston’s historic district.
The cruise controversy has spawned lawsuits in state and federal court.
Environmental and preservation groups and neighborhood residents have sued in state court, saying the ships are a public nuisance and alleging that Charleston violated its own ordinances in allowing a year-round industry. A judge appointed by the state Supreme Court heard arguments last month but has not released his findings.
Preservationists also sued in federal court in Washington, arguing that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers unlawfully issued a permit allowing the SPA to classify the terminal work as a maintenance project. The lawsuit contends it is a new project.