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Southport changes course on international port plans

READ MORE: Southport changes course on international port plans

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) -- No port in Southport. That's the stand from the Southport Board of Aldermen. It's a 180-degree turn from how the board felt about the proposed international terminal four years ago.

Last night the board approved a resolution in opposition to the construction of the international container port. Four years ago, it was all for the port. Five months ago, it was neutral about it.

"We had been neutral since January in the hopes that we could get the state Ports Authority to come to Southport for a public meeting with the citizens and the board, and they repeatedly refused to come after we repeatedly asked them to or we got no response," Southport Mayor Pro Tem Mary Ellen Poole said.

In a 4-1 vote Thursday night the Board of Aldermen decided against the port.

"As many of us that were new to the board, we got out and talked to the citizens, and that's what we heard," Poole said. "The citizens wanted us to take a stand on it, and we did our research, and that's what the majority came up with."

Many people think the new port would create much needed jobs, but NoPort Southport chair Susan Toth says the jobs would be short-term with limited benefits. She says the port is a bad idea.

"It would destroy pristine ground, beautiful area and it is a heavy industry," Toth said. "The pollution would be phenomenal."

Toth says Southport does not have the infrastructure in place to support a port.

"The Ports Authority wants to spend not millions but billions of dollars to do this, and that's not counting the infrastructure, the required infrastructure that would need to take place before any port could become operational," Toth said.

And she says, it would cost taxpayers more money.

"North Carolinians are going to be taxed twice," she said. "They are going to be paying for both federal and state taxes to support this."

The communications director for the NC Ports Authority says the port would create much-needed jobs and is an investment for the whole state. She says it would also create tax revenue.

Even though the board voted against it, the 600-acre port could still come to Southport. The ultimate decision to build the port is up to the state and federal government. Right now the state Senate is considering funding a $10 million feasibility study on the port. The House voted against it.

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