Judge to make ruling on cruise ships in Charleston

Judge to make ruling on cruise ships in Charleston

The cruise industry in Charleston hit some rough waters in court. A judge is now reviewing information on a case against Carnival Cruise Lines, the South Carolina State Ports Authority, and the City of Charleston.

Conservationists and some who live in Charleston's historic district say the ships pollute the air and create a nuisance, and they are demanding regulation.

Some downtown Charleston businesses say cruise ships keep the customers coming.

"We get a lot of cruisers that come in and eat. We have a Charleston downtown limo. We take them to and from the airport. We get a lot of the employees from the cruise ships that come in," Tabbuli General Manager Jay Witowski said.

For some residents though, cruise ships are a nuisance. Blan Holman is an attorney representing them in the lawsuit. They say the ships are a health concern, violate city laws, and they want fewer cruises in and out of town.

"What the plaintiffs in the case seek is a balance, is to say this operation is not special. It's got to play by the rules just like other businesses do in Charleston," Holman said.

Attorneys for the SCSPA and the city asked the judge to dismiss the complaint.

In court, the judge asked the attorneys whether zoning laws apply to the ship. In 2010 the City of Charleston welcomed Carnival Fantasy here as its home port. Attorneys with the preservation groups say because the ship is moored at the Charleston terminal for 60 days out of the year, it's a structure and subject to city ordinances. City attorneys say the ship is used to transport people, so it's not permanent, and the rules don't apply.

Supporters say they hope Carnival will continue bringing business to town.

"The damages that they consider a problem are outweighed by the good that is brought in, the people, the good, the money, the income, and the benefits to the community," resident Larry Duffy said.

"That's bringing revenue into the city and I really do feel like we need that," resident Kathleen Marck said.

Judge Clifton Newman made no ruling on the case. He said wanted to review the information further. He gave no timeline for his decision.

When the judge makes his ruling, the recommendation will then be sent to the State Supreme Court. Justices will then make the final decision in the cruise ship case.

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