A legal battle between Port Aransas and the Port of Corpus Christi escalated last week as the port filed a lawsuit against Port Aransas over Harbor Island development.
The Port of Corpus Christi has requested an injunction against the Port Aransas City Council, which had established a 60-day moratorium on construction of the port’s new Harbor Island Marine Terminal, a portion of which sits in Port Aransas.
Tim Acosta, government reporter for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, says Port Aransas is still rebuilding, two years after Hurricane Harvey, and the moratorium would allow Port Aransas more time to study the proposed marine terminal, and have Corpus Christi go through the permitting process.
“They don’t have much industry there, though there is some in Harbor Island, so there is some concern about what that could mean for the town and what could change,” Acosta says.
Acosta says the marine terminal is supposed to increase the port’s capacity to export crude oil by allowing the loading of large carriers. The terminal would also create new jobs in the area, but Port Aransas residents are concerned about the effects the proposed project will have on the Port Aransas community.
“A lot of these people are new residents to Port Aransas. They moved there in the last few years as a sort of like a retirement community. But then, you have longtime property owners who live there and they’re also worried about what’s going to happen to their property values or just their community in general,” Acosta says. “They’re also worried about the marine life, the habitats they rely on for fishing, and just recreational activities, so it’s a wide swath of things.”
The injunction asks the court to lift the moratorium. The Port of Corpus Christi claims that Port Aransas is overstepping its authority.
The Port of Corpus Christi also sent a letter to Port Aransas, terminating the city’s lease of the port’s Harbor Island Marina, claiming the city violated the terms of its lease.
This dispute is between Port Aransas and the Port of Corpus Christi, not the City of Corpus Christi, Acosta says. Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb met with the City Council on Friday to plan discussions to be held later with the port commissioners.
“For this community that’s recovering still, there is some concern there as to what this could mean for their future,” Acosta says. “If this does happen and it does go through, will this alter Port Aransas permanently? Will it be unrecognizable? Will it still be a destination for people- There’s just so many questions for this small town that right now they feel aren’t being answered.”
Written by Savana Dunning.