GA company sues to block Upstate inland port in SC

04/19/2013 12:00 AM

04/18/2013 8:11 PM

An Atlanta-based company has sued the South Carolina State Ports Authority to block condemnation proceedings related to development of an inland port in the Upstate.

Nordic Greer Cold Storage LLC said in a civil suit filed in Common Pleas Court in Spartanburg that the Ports Authority’s intent to condemn the company’s leasehold interest in property in Greer would affect a “critical cog in the wheel” of the Nordic operation.

The company leases the property from the authority, Nordic said in its suit.

It wasn’t known Thursday how the suit could affect the inland port’s development.

Jim Newsome, chief executive of the Ports Authority, said the authority is disappointed it hasn’t been able to come to terms with Nordic.

“We hope any interruption is minimal, as this facility is a critical infrastructure project for our state,” Newsome said in a statement.

Timothy Madden, a Greenville attorney representing Nordic, said the company is hopeful a settlement can be reached.

The freight-handling facility, which the Ports Authority is developing next to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, is scheduled to open this fall.

It will use cranes to lift cargo between trucks and trains and provide overnight delivery of shipping containers via rail to and from the port of Charleston, 200 miles away.

Through its Greer facility, Nordic provides “numerous services,” including plant support for local poultry producers, the company said in its suit.

For more than 20 years, the Greer facility has been used to freeze products locally to sell to domestic and export markets, the company said.

Nordic said it hasn’t been afforded “a commercially reasonable” time frame to relocate, according to court records.

Any interruption in Nordic’s services puts the company’s reputation and business at risk, the company said in its suit.

The Ports Authority’s action — including assurances to Nordic that it could continue operating and the “sudden initiation” of condemnation proceedings requiring Nordic to shut down its business in 30 days — hasn’t been “in good faith,” the company said.

The company said Nordic’s predecessor in 1983 entered a lease agreement with the Ports Authority on a 3.36-acre tract in the Greer Overland Transportation Facility to be used by Nordic to build a 35,000-square-foot cold storage facility capable of handling more than 8 million pounds of cargo.

In discussions and meetings in November 2012, the Ports Authority and its representatives presented plans for the inland port to Nordic, the company said in its suit.

The authority assured Nordic it could remain on the leased land even with the inland port project and the company’s operation of the Greer facility wouldn’t be affected, according to the suit.

At the same time, Nordic told the Ports Authority it would be willing to sell its leasehold interest but would require at least six to nine months to search for a new, suitable location, the suit said.

The authority responded “by assuring Nordic that such relocation would not be necessary because the Ports Authority would use a ‘work around’ to allow Nordic to remain on the leased premises,” according to the suit.

On March 12, the Ports Authority served Nordic with the condemnation notice, the suit said. The notice asserted the Ports Authority’s intent to condemn Nordic’s leasehold interest and said the authority might take possession of the property leased to Nordic within 30 days, the suit said.

Nordic said it hasn’t been able to find a suitable replacement to the Greer facility.

Nordic is seeking a court order to stop the Ports Authority from condemning the company’s leasehold interest and to award the company “reasonable” costs and litigation expenses.

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