Federal judge denies extension in cruise terminal lawsuit

  • Posted: Monday, October 14, 2013 10:50 a.m., Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 5:41 p.m.
The warehouse in the forefront is the proposed and disputed site of the State Ports Authority’s cruise terminal. Buy this photo

The federal government shutdown is not cause for an extension in a lawsuit challenging a $35 million cruise terminal the State Ports Authority wants to open in downtown Charleston.

In a recent ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel said the shutdown doesn’t give him the authority to change a deadline coming up this week in the federal complaint.

The lawsuit is challenging an Army Corps of Engineers permit for the proposed passenger building at Union Pier.

The Army Corps asked Gergel this month to extend Wednesday’s deadline to respond to his order requiring the agency to go back and review the project more thoroughly.

The Army Corps said in court records that the federal shutdown has caused a lapse in funding at the U.S. Department of Justice, which is representing it in the lawsuit.

The Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston filed the case after the Army Corps issued a permit allowing five pilings to be driven on the waterfront.

The pilings are needed to help transform an existing warehouse into the new passenger building.

The opposition groups have said the agency didn’t take into account the impact on historic properties.

Gergel agreed. In September, he ordered the Army Corps to redo the study with a more extensive review of the effects on the environment and historic properties.

The ports authority, which has joined the lawsuit as a defendant, has been seeking to relocate its cruise terminal to the north end of Union Pier from the south end for about three years.

The complaint before Gergel is one of three lawsuits targeting cruise-ship operations in downtown Charleston.

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

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