Preservation group in Charleston wants a cruise passenger fee

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A study by a preservation group in Charleston, S.C., calls for a cruise passenger fee to help offset costs the city incurs when cruise ships call.  

The Historic Charleston Foundation commissioned the study, which was completed by Miley Associates, a consultancy in Columbia, S.C.

The cruise industry’s presence in Charleston has emerged as a controversial issue in the city after a lawsuit was filed last year by four citizen groups against Carnival Cruise Lines, which sails the 2,000-passenger Carnival Fantasy from Charleston year-round.

The lawsuit, which is in the hands of the state Supreme Court, charges thatCarnival does not comply with local zoning regulations.

The study suggests that the city negotiate with the South Carolina State Ports Authority to impose “a reasonable passenger fee.” It does not suggest any specific fee. The study also urges the city to create a citizens monitoring board to oversee and provide advice to the city council on cruise industry issues.

At a press conference in Charleston on Feb. 8, study researcher Harry Mileyrecommended that “all stakeholders in the cruise industry's future — including local government, longshoremen, port officials and environmentalists — should band together for a real-time look at what the ships are doing.”

Along with the foundation, other plaintiffs in the Carnival lawsuit are theCoastal Conservation League, Charleston Preservation Society and the Charles Towne and Ansonborough neighborhood associations.

The city of Charleston and the ports authority support Carnival, and earlier this year filed a joint motion asking the state Supreme Court to claim jurisdiction over the case and dismiss the lawsuit.

The preservation group's study, called “The Cruise Industry in Charleston: A Clear Perspective,” was commissioned last fall.

The groups suing the line are the Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, the Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston.

Follow Donna Tunney on Twitter @dttravelweekly. 

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