FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Charleston, SC – The South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) today asked the State Supreme Court to enforce its ruling on the Jasper port issue and to direct the County to stand down.
Recent events led the SCSPA to ask the Court step in. Despite the Court's clear ruling on the SCSPA's superior eminent domain powers, Jasper County has declared in multiple press accounts its intention to move ahead with a competing, yet subordinate, condemnation. This hinders the SCSPA's actions and is inconsistent with the Supreme Court's decision.
“The County is seeking to interfere with the Court's opinion, as well as the State's efforts to acquire the site,” said Bill H. Stern, chairman of the SCSPA. “Their words and actions have proven that it's necessary for the Ports Authority to request relief from the Court.”
In its April 3 opinion, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the SCSPA's condemnation powers were superior to those of Jasper County. However, the Court did not address the SCSPA's request for injunctive relief.
Consistent with the Supreme Court's decision, the SCSPA has moved forward with condemnation proceedings to acquire the site from the property owner, Georgia DOT. It submitted an offer letter, and on April 10, the SCSPA filed for condemnation and deposited $9.317 million with the Clerk of Court. Georgia has since rejected the payment and is expected to file a challenge to the SCSPA's action.
In a letter last week, the SCSPA requested that Jasper County stop its attempts to condemn the site.
Instead, even after the SCSPA moved ahead with its condemnation, the County has stated it will take actions that get in the way of and obstruct the SCSPA's steps to acquire the site and its negotiations with Georgia. In comments reported in The Post and Courier, The State and The Beaufort Gazette, County officials and attorneys said they will continue their condemnation efforts.
In addition, the County's attorneys sent a letter to the SCSPA yesterday stating an intention to seek to intervene in the SCSPA's condemnation proceeding against GDOT.
“Without an injunction, both the SCSPA and the County will continue with rival, although not equivalent, condemnations of the same site,” said Stern. “The current situation presents a need for relief, and we hope the Court will consider our request.”