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Port Aransas, Port look to move past Harbor Island dispute

Posted at 5:56 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 21:24:42-04

PORT ARANSAS, Texas — A legal battle over Harbor Island development between the Port of Corpus Christi and the City of Port Aransas is over.

The Port Aransas City Council unanimously signed off on the deal Monday, ending a contentious period between the city and the Port of Corpus Christi.

The agreement allows the port to move forward with a planned crude-export terminal on Harbor Island, while also giving the City of Port Aransas a voice in development.

The squabble started in mid-2018 when the port announced plans for the Harbor Island VLCC terminal.

In August 2019, the Port Aransas City Council decided to put a 60-day hold on issuing permits for the industrial development on Harbor Island.

In September, the Port of Corpus Christi countered and sued the city of Port Aransas, while also filing a request for an injunction. The port also sent a letter to the City of Port Aransas that the lease for the city marina had been terminated due to a violation.

“It’s something that’s going to benefit the port and our mission in the Coastal Bend, and it also benefits the City of Port Aransas, because it keeps them involved in the process,” said Port of Corpus Christi Commission Chairman Charles Zahn.

The terminal will make the port a bigger player in the global-energy market, as it will be able to accommodate Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC).

For Port Aransas, the deal also allows the city to keep its marina.

“The Port was playing real dirty, trying to threaten to pull the permit on the marina,” said Chris Collins, who operates several Port Aransas restaurants including Fins Grill & Icehouse in the marina, and Tortuga's Saltwater Grill. “I hope people remember that.”

While city and port officials said they’re happy with the settlement, business owners such as Collins, aren’t so sure.

“It is what it is,” he said. “We’re going to adapt and do the best that we can. I believe that the deal that was made was kind of the best the city could make.”

Some in Port Aransas think the city’s relationship with the port is beyond repair, but Zahn, a Port Aransas resident himself, was confident the two sides would work something out.

“I always felt like we were going to resolve the issues, and I’m glad we did,” he said. “Hopefully what comes out of this is a better relationship between the Port of Corpus Christi and the City of Port Aransas.”