North Charleston and the state of South Carolina have reached a settlement that ends a long legal dispute over the location of rail lines for a new port terminal that’s currently under construction. The North Charleston City Council voted 9-1 to accept the settlement Tuesday.
“With today’s vote by North Charleston City Council, everyone in South Carolina wins,” Governor Nikki Haley said in a statement Tuesday. The South Carolina Budget & Control Board is expected to approve the deal in its meeting Wednesday.
The issue was that the Department of Commerce’s plan for the new terminal on the former Navy base would require rail lines leading into both the north and south sides of the property. However, North Charleston sued, pointing to a 2002 Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the South Carolina State Ports Authority that only authorized rail lines on the southern end. Mayor Keith Summey was worried that constant trains would destroy property values in a recently-revitalized section of the city.
According to officials, the settlement will create a rail yard south of McMillan Avenue and allow for rail exits on both the north and south sides of the terminal. In exchange, S.C. Public Railways agreed to pay the city $8 million over the next four years, as well as granting the city unused property on the former naval base that is closest to the waterfront and is best suited for future development.
Meanwhile, North Charleston will transfer 14 acres to Public Railways and give the state the option to take control of an additional 12 acres near the proposed rail yard. The deal also calls for a transportation study that will analyze transportation around the port and recommend truck routes around the rail yard.
The settlement ends multiple legal suits filed over the dual-rail locations.
“This fight has been over rail, but I believe that the City has really objected to the human impact of rail more than to rail itself,” Summey said in a statement, “With this settlement, I believe that North Charleston will emerge as a better community, and that all of the citizens of the State of South Carolina will realize that it was this community that made the tough decisions for their economic growth.”