City considers closing certain new downtown bars earlier

By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published Sept. 11, 2013

After complaints of late-night noise and drunkenness, new bars and restaurants on certain properties in the Cannonborough, Elliotborough and East Side areas of downtown Charleston could be forced to close by 11 p.m. if the city passes a new ordinance.

Charleston City Council discussed the option of a general business overlay district that would enforce new closing times for new establishments. Any current restaurants or bars would be grandfathered in and would not have to abide by the new closing times.

For 1.5 hours Tuesday, area residents and business owners stood up to speak to council members, mostly in support of closing the bars and restaurants earlier.

Many said the noise from bars, restaurants and drunken people often woke their families up around 2 a.m., or kept them from sleeping when they had work or school the next day. Several said they will be forced to relocate if no changes are made.

Resident Marc Knapp disagreed with the city’s deciding when a bar or restaurant can close.

“As for the bars, I believe in business. If you have too many, they’ll go out of business,” Knapp said. “Stop trying to micromanage. This is something the economy will manage on its own.”

Rather than creating a new zoning district, known as a Neighborhood Business District, and rezoning all these properties, as was previously discussed, City Council decided to consider the general business overlay district, which was proposed by Chief City Planner Tim Keane.

Charleston City Council deferred the decision until its Sept. 24 meeting, so that Keane’s staff could work out the details.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-839-3119.

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