Charleston City Council gives initial approval to bars’ new closing times

By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published Sept. 26, 2013

Charleston City Council gave initial approval to an ordinance that would change closing times to 11 p.m. for new restaurants and bars in a few neighborhoods of downtown Charleston.

On Tuesday, council approved a general business late-night overlay zone and a light industrial late-night overlay zone for parts of the Cannonborough, Elliotborough and Eastside neighborhoods.

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The rezoning would change business hours from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. — several hours earlier than the 2 a.m. closing time that’s allowed now. Food stores, gas stations, restaurants, bars and any business that sells alcohol would be impacted.

Current restaurants and bars will grandfathered in and will not have to abide by the new closing times.

Area residents complained about late-night noise, drunkenness and drunk driving for nearly two hours during a council meeting earlier this month.

City Council also discussed a new procedure to inform property owners when the city is considering a downzoning of their property, or a change in zoning that results in decreased property values. Some council members disagreed with a piece of the proposal that would have mailed letters to affected property owners after a first reading of the proposed downzoning, so a vote on the proposal was delayed.

Councilman Aubry Alexander, whose proposal to compensate downzoned property owners fizzled earlier this month, added that it’s important to communicate the reason for rezoning with the property owner.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-839-3119.

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