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Port Aransas Approves Moratorium on Port Corpus Christi

The Port of Corpus Christi plans to use 250 acres of land on Harbor Island for a deepwater marine terminal to accommodate Very Large Crude Carriers to fully load with oil and gas products from pipelines leading to the island. Map courtesy of Port Aransas Conservancy

A 60-day emergency moratorium to stop the Port of Corpus Christi from proceeding with industrial development plans on Harbor Island was recently approved by the Port Aransas City Council. The ordinance also states that the city may also rezone parts of Harbor Island in the future to prevent further development

The council voted on August 29 to stop issuing development permits or approvals for industrial development on the island beginning immediately. The vote was 6-0. Council member Beverly Bolner was out of town.

The port’s plans to build a crude oil terminal on the island, parts of which fall inside the Port Aransas city limits, has drawn criticism from residents as well as tourists and environmentalists. They fear further development, along with the dredging project now underway in the Corpus Christi ship channel, will threaten the area’s natural resources and, in turn, tourism.

Other plans include a desalination plant. Permit requests to discharge brine wastewater from a plant have already been filed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Currently, the port doesn’t plan to build a plant but wants the permits in place for other entities that might be interested.

The emergency ordinance begins with mention of Hurricane Harvey and the damage it inflicted on the city’s infrastructure and property, including the fire department. The damage has adversely affected the fire department’s ability to provide fire protection on the island, reads the ordinance, making it necessary to suspend development.

The ordinance also points to the city’s life as a fishing village.

“The city has in the past few years experienced extremely rapid growth and is in danger of losing the charm which makes it an attractive, unique venue,” the ordinance reads. “In recognition of this situation, the City Council is considering re-zoning some of Harbor Island and/or the imposition of additional controls upon new development on Harbor Island.”

Passing the moratorium buys the city time to study the need for further steps, the ordinance continues.

The port has not returned a request for comment from Corpus Christi Business News by posting on Tuesday, September 3.

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