A federal judge is allowing the State Ports Authority to join a lawsuit challenging its plans to convert a vacant warehouse into a new cruise ship terminal in downtown Charleston.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel signed an order this week allowing the SPA to join the Army Corps of Engineers in defending a permit for the $35 million project planned for the north end of Union Pier.

The SPA requested to be included in the complaint since the “action may impair or impede its interest in renovating” the warehouse, according to court documents.

The Preservation Society of Charleston and the Charleston-based Coastal Conservation League sued the Army Corps over the construction permit it issued for the terminal project. They are asking the court to revoke the permit and to require more public review.

Gergel has scheduled Nov. 4 as the trial date in the case.

Neighborhood associations and the other groups are opposed to the new terminal site, saying it will bring more tourists, traffic congestion and fumes from ships to the historic district. They also are calling for limits on cruise operations.

The SPA now uses an aging structure at the south end of Union Pier to handle cruise ships and their passengers.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 843-937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.