Newspaper article The Florida Times Union
Mayport Terminal Plans Gain Ground; the Proposal Is Up for Full City Council Approval Next Week
Byline: TIA MITCHELL
The plan to build a cruise ship terminal in Mayport is one step closer to reality after two Jacksonville City Council committees OK'ed it Tuesday.
Outlined in two separate bills, the Jacksonville Port Authority's proposal is now up for full council approval next week. If it's approved, the port's board will be asked in January to allocate $60 million to finance the project slated to open by December 2010.
The City Council's Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee narrowly approved the land use bill on a 4-3 vote Tuesday morning.
The bills had wider support at the Land Use and Zoning Committee meeting in the afternoon, which voted after hearing about two hours of public comment. The land use bill was approved unanimously; the companion zoning bill was approved 6-1 with committee Chairman Art Graham as the lone dissenter.
Graham said the bill lost his support when his colleagues failed to pass a floor amendment that would have required docked cruise ships to use cleaner energy sources - either JEA power or diesel - as opposed to the bunker fuel they burn at sea.
Other council members argued there wasn't enough proof that cruise ship emissions were an environmental concern.
The Mayport residents and business owners said they were disappointed by the votes. Michelle Baldwin, president of the Mayport Village Civic Association and member of the Mayport Waterfront Partnership's board, said the council members were asking the right questions but not asking the right people.
She said there is information that JPA leaders in the audience either didn't know or weren't sharing.
"We just need to make sure they're fully informed for the next meeting," Baldwin said.
In addition to concerns about air quality, opponents to the project said bringing cruise ships to Mayport will harm wildlife and sea life, and roads won't be able to handle the additional traffic. …