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Both Port Aransas & Port Corpus Christi Declare Victory

Industrial development on Harbor Island in Port Aransas was the subject of a recent county court-at-law ruling. Courtesy photo

The Port of Corpus Christi was “taken behind the woodshed and their butts were spanked,” Port Aransas Mayor Charles Bujan said in a statement to the media.

The Port of Corpus Christi had a different take on the actions of Nueces County Court-at-law No. 3 Judge Deeanne Svoboda Galvin, who dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Port of Corpus Christi against the city of Port Aransas on December 20.

The port filed a request for an injunction September 4 after the Port Aransas City Council approved a 60-day moratorium August 29 on issuing permits for industrial development on Harbor Island. In response, the port pulled the city’s lease for its marina and filed the lawsuit. The moratorium expired in October.

“We are pleased with Judge Galvan’s order that the City of Port Aransas will not interfere with the Port of Corpus Christi Authority’s work on Harbor Island,” Port Chairman Charlie Zahn Jr. said in a news release issued after the ruling.

The law suit asked for relief from any future injunctions. Judge Galvin dismissed the case because a moratorium is not currently in place. She did, however, issue a warning to the city of Port Aransas about future moratoriums.

“I want to say with all firmness, if the city proposes to pass a similar ordinance of this nature, or any other ordinance, that may violate Texas law by the Constitution, I am going to grant the plea for jurisdiction,” Judge Galvin said in her ruling. “That being said, I will not for one second fail to raise this matter again if a similar ordinance passes.”

The port argued before the court that city ordinances limiting access to development on Harbor Island interfered with the Texas Natural Resources Code. As a state authority, the code trumps city ordinances, the port said.

“With the Court’s Order confirming an agreement between the City of Port Aransas and the port authority, the port can continue unobstructed its efforts to assure the responsible redevelopment of Harbor Island, into yet again, a world-class marine terminal, something Harbor Island has been for over 90 years,” Zahn said in the port’s media statement. “With the court‘s additional instruction that the City of Port Aransas should not pass any further restrictive ordinances – similar to the city’s ordinance passed back in August of this year – the port authority is assured these instructions by the court will put this matter to rest once and for all.”

Not so fast, replied Port Aransas.

“Contrary to Zahn’s press release spin, the port did not come close to achieving a ‘win’ in Judge Deeanne Galvan’s Nueces County Court at Law No. 3,” said Port Aransas City Attorney Fred Dreiling. “At no time did Judge Galvan rule or hold that the City of Port Aransas may not interfere with the port’s work on Harbor Island. In fact, the opposite occurred. After careful, judicious consideration, Judge Galvan granted Port Aransas’ request that the port’s ill-advised lawsuit be dismissed. The bottom line is that the port’s lawsuit against Port Aransas has been summarily dismissed; it was a great day for Port Aransas and a bad one for the Port.”

Actually, unless the city of Port Aransas approves another moratorium that initiates another lawsuit, the issue has been settled for now and the port will continue with its development plans for Harbor Island.

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