According to the understanding, the Ports Authority’s footprint at the Base will include approximately 12,000 feet of waterfront along the deep-draft Cooper River (authorized to -45 feet mean
low water), along with about 600 acres of high ground. The detailed scope of any future terminal at the Base, including numbers of berths and acreage, would be defined in an environmental permitting process.
Approximately 90 tenants, including private businesses and government agencies, currently occupy portions of the property under lease arrangements. The Ports Authority intends to minimize impacts on their business.
“Deciding on a boundary line is the first and most important step toward finalizing a memorandum of understanding and agreement, which legislation recently passed by the South Carolina General Assembly requires,” said Ports Authority chairman Whitemarsh S. Smith III.
While defining a boundary line is an important step, a number of details, such as inland infrastructure and zoning issues, have to be resolved before an agreement can be signed. The Authority is committed to working cooperatively with the City as other portions of the agreement are finalized.
Hopefully, a final version of the agreement will be ready for approval by North Charleston City Council and the Ports Authority’s Board in the next month or so. At the same time, the Ports Authority continues to evaluate other sites on the west bank of the Cooper River, as required by other legislation. Members of the Charleston County legislative delegation were obviously instrumental in crafting both the legislation and the boundary line.
“Expansion of the Port of Charleston is a vital issue for economic development in South Carolina and thousands of jobs depend on it,” said Bernard S. Groseclose Jr., president and CEO of the Ports Authority. “This sends a positive signal to the Port’s customers that we will be able to meet their demands for the future,” he said.
At the same time, the community’s concerns are real and important. The Ports Authority is committed to adequate highway and rail infrastructure, alleviating traffic impacts on the surrounding
community. The Ports Authority also supports adequate buffering between industrial and residential or commercial uses.