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SCSPA Votes to Acquire Jasper Site, Approves Navy Base Studies

Charleston, SC - Citing a compelling market demand for new port capacity, the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) Board voted to begin the process of acquiring property in Jasper County on the Savannah River for development of a public seaport.

In other action, the Board also approved the completion of $4.9 million in environmental studies related to expansion at the former Charleston Navy Base. Based on a new schedule, a permitting decision on the Navy Base project is expected by August 2006.

The resolution to acquire the Jasper site authorized the initiation of condemnation proceedings, if necessary. The Georgia Department of Transportation owns the large tract on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Jasper County, the people of South Carolina and companies doing international business in our state,” said SCSPA Board Chairman Harry J. Butler Jr. of Georgetown.

Board member Tom Davis of Beaufort, who introduced the motion, noted that a recent SCSPA study shows international trade through the South Atlantic will rise 4.9% a year over the next two decades, more than the U.S. and North Atlantic averages. That means trade is poised to double in 20 years.

“Port capacity is a serious concern for our industry, our nation and our state. Fortunately, we have a solution,” Davis said in his remarks before the Board. “The Jasper County site is one of the few remaining large tracts of waterfront property suitable for port development,” Davis said. “It presents significant potential. But it also presents significant responsibility.”

The S.C. Code of Laws specifically empowers the SCSPA to develop marine terminals on the Savannah River. While the SCSPA has met with Georgia officials about acquiring the site, those discussions have not yet resulted in an agreement. The Authority remains open to a negotiated resolution and is optimistic it can reach agreement that will be beneficial to both states.

Davis praised Jasper County's recent efforts to launch a port at the site, and Butler stressed that the SCSPA would begin moving on project immediately.

“To the people of Jasper County who have fought for this project, I would say, help is on the way,” Butler said. “We intend to bring the full faith and resources of the State of South Carolina to bear on this project.”

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