Port Royal should be deliberate in dock deal

info@islandpacket.comJune 11, 2013 

Jellyfish tumble off a conveyer belt into a storage bin in a demonstration at the Port Royal dock on how jellyfish would be unloaded from fishing boats should a proposed jellyfish processing operation be approved.

JAY KARR — Staff photo Buy Photo

The town of Port Royal should be in no hurry to approve a new seafood venture on its public docks.

Town Council is being pushed by the unrealistic time line of a company that wants to open a jellyfish harvesting operation. The company wants approval in a hurry, but the only time line the town should be worried about is its own.

And recent information suggests that time line should be longer, not shorter.

Last week, Town Council discussed past business failings with the man who proposes to harvest jellyfish and other seafood using docks and related buildings leased to the town by the S.C. State Ports Authority.

What happened in the past with seafood businesses run by Steven Giese Sr. and his son is a concern. But controlling what happens here should be the top priority.

Mayor Sam Murray asked Giese last week about a list of seven items the town requested from him, including lists of permits, equipment and construction plans.

Town manager Van Willis stressed the need for proof of insurance, proof of a surety or performance bond that would pay the town if the company doesn't meet its obligations, and an indemnity agreement that would hold the town and the Ports Authority blameless if the venture failed.

Even if it gets all that documentation to the satisfaction of town and Ports Authority attorneys, the council owes it to the public to consider the impact of the full operation, including the environmental impact of processing the jellyfish. Where will that be done, and what permits are in hand to allow it?

People like to complain about how slow it is to work with the government. This case shows there are sometimes good reasons for the government to move cautiously.

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