North Charleston City Council approves rail settlement with state

Gov. Haley and Mayor Summey
Gov. Haley and Mayor Summey

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC/AP) - The North Charleston City Council has approved a port rail settlement over how to use rail lines and land at the old Charleston Naval Base.

The agreement gives the Port of Charleston rail access to the site, which can be used as a transfer point for goods going into and out of the port.

In exchange, the state's Division of Public Railways is swapping land with North Charleston, giving the city property closer to the waterfront to use for residential development and recreation.

"I am pleased to announce a resolution to the rail dispute that has consumed our community for the past several years," Mayor Summey said in a statement released on Tuesday. "The fight was at times bitter; however the strong will of this community has led the state to a compromise that will ensure equitable treatment of our citizens. We could not have reached this point without you."

Last year, the city sued the Department of Commerce and the State Ports Authority, arguing the state's proposed location for a rail yard violated a memorandum of agreement that port activity would remain on the south end of the old Charleston Naval Base.

But the state said at the time that the best location is on land to the north of the terminal near an area North Charleston has been redeveloping.

"We were able to stop approximately half, but not all, of the rail from being placed on land at the former Navy Base," Mayor Summey said."We did not have to yield and allow northern rail access...I believe that the rail line reduction on the former Navy Base, along with other concessions made by the South Carolina Department of Commerce, will allow for appropriate mitigation for ill effects of increased rail traffic through our community."

"With today's vote by North Charleston City Council, everyone in South Carolina wins," said Gov. Nikki Haley who was in attendance for the rail settlement announcement on Tuesday. "First, let me thank Mayor Summey and Secretary Bobby Hitt, who have done a tremendous service to our state by bringing us to this point. South Carolina as a whole is now positioned to even further benefit from our world-class port and the expansion of the Panama Canal - it truly is a great day in South Carolina."

Mayor Keith Summey will hold a town hall meeting to give a presentation on the rail settlement on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall.

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