FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Charleston, SC - South Carolina and Georgia have resolved a land dispute and will work together to develop a plan for a future port terminal in Jasper County, based on an agreement reached by the Jasper Bi-State Port Task Force.
Under the intergovernmental agreement to be signed by both states' port authorities and Georgia Department of Transportation, a new group, the Jasper Ocean Terminal Joint Project Office (JPO), will be formed to move the project forward.
The JPO will be overseen by a six-member Board, four from the states' existing ports authorities. Each governor appoints one member, while the chairman of both states' ports authorities will appoint two members from their respective boards. The chief executive of each state's port authority will serve as ex-officio members of the group.
“This agreement creates the framework for how South Carolina and Georgia will work together in the future as we explore all the details and options for a proposed new port terminal in Jasper,” said Bill H. Stern, chairman of the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) and a member of the Task Force. “The agreement is a prudent, fail-safe solution for all parties on both sides of the river to begin the planning process.”
Forming the JPO starts work on the project and will eventually result in a detailed proposal for consideration by both states. This bi-state compact, which must be approved by each state's General Assembly and the U.S. Congress, would cover the financing and operation of the project, as well as other issues.
The agreement initiates a number of specific steps. First, ownership of the property will be split equally between the two states, ending the expensive and time-consuming condemnation process. Preliminary meetings between the Task Force and environmental permitting identified a number of key challenges which officials concluded should be addressed by a coordinated effort by the two states working in cooperation.
Perhaps most importantly, the group will work to remove the federal easement on the property, which currently calls for the indefinite use of the site as a dredge spoils area.