Texas: Port A City Council takes aim at Port of Corpus Christi and imposes emergency moratorium on Harbor Island industrial development
City action opposes plans made by the Port of Corpus Christi to put a crude oil terminal on Harbor Island.
The Port Aransas City Council just made a big move against the Port of Corpus Christi.
An emergency ordinance was approved by the council today (Thursday, Aug. 29), placing a moratorium on issuing property development permits or approvals for development of any Harbor Island properties for heavy industrial uses.
The action was effective immediately, said City Manager Dave Parsons.
The vote was 6-0, with council member Beverly Bolner absent because she was out of town, attending the birth of a grandchild.
The moratorium flies in the face of plans made by the Port of Corpus Christi to put a crude oil terminal on Harbor Island.
It also would appear to conflict with the port’s work to clear the way for possible construction of a desalination plant on Harbor Island. The port has applied to the state for a permit to discharge brine wastewater from a desalination plant, should one be built.
The council approved the emergency moratorium immediately after holding a session that was closed to the public for consultation with City Attorney Michael Morris. Texas law allows councils to hold executive sessions to discuss legal matters.
The emergency ordinance approved by the council says:
- In August, 2017, Hurricane Harvey devastated the middle Texas coast and inflicted significant infrastructure and property damage to the City of Port Aransas. Among the many City services impacted by the Category 4 hurricane was the City’s fire department, which was effectively destroyed as every single piece of firefighting equipment was lost. While the City is currently in the process of rebuilding its fire department, the City does not have the capability to provide fire protection services and emergency response to heavy industrial uses on Harbor Island and, in particular, oil and gas related operations.
- As a result, a public emergency exists which adversely affects the life, health, property and public peace of those properties located on Harbor Island. To ensure that these life safety concerns are protected, a temporary moratorium on further heavy industrial development on Harbor Island is warranted until adequate fire protection services and emergency response are available.
- The City of Port Aransas developed as a fishing village. It is a non-industrial town and relatively clean and free of the pollutants which normally accompany some industrial developments. Its commercial structures historically were small and primarily wooden with peaked roofs. The City in its commercial area had and still has the flavor and ambiance of a small fishing village which imbues it with a distinctive charm and character. 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. 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. In order to prevent the development of Harbor Island in a way which would adversely affect, damage or destroy the aesthetics or environment of the City, and to recognize the historical uses of Harbor Island, the Council considers it necessary to pass this temporary moratorium on an emergency basis to allow the City to study and, if determined to be appropriate, institute additional zoning and other development controls on Harbor Island.”
- From and after the passage of this ordinance and for a period of 60 days thereafter, unless sooner repeated by the Council, no development permits or approvals shall be issued for development of Harbor Island property. Under Section 3.13 of the City Charter, unless extended by further Council action, this emergency ordinance will automatically expire on the sixty-first day after its enactment.