Tuesday, July 29, 2014

City to propose 3-year ban on bars

Clock block

Posted by Chris Haire on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 7:15 AM

click to enlarge New bars will be a thing of the future in parts of downtown - JONATHAN BONCEK FILE PHOTO
  • Jonathan Boncek file photo
  • New bars will be a thing of the future in parts of downtown
I'm not used to being on the winning side. But I guess that comes with the turf. I'm a Dem in a decidedly dead-red state, and I've come to accept the fact that each November I throw away my vote.

So consider my surprise when the City of Charleston decided to walk back its proposed 12 a.m. bar ordinance, you know, the one that would require all new bars and restaurants to close at midnight and would later be used to justify shutting down all bars when the clock strikes 24.

Now, some say that Mayor Riley, Chief Mullen, and city planner Tim Keane never wanted to destroy nightlife on Upper King completely. They just didn't want to draft an ordinance that would place a ban on all new bars since that would be like a real dick move.

And so they crafted a convoluted law that would change the zoning requirements for the areas in question and in effect discourage entrepreneurs from opening in the town's two key entertainment districts — and they'd do it all without explicitly saying that's what they were doing. 

This is the part where I'd normally use a series of colorful metaphors to mock this unholy trio, but I won't. We won.

A few weeks back the City Paper's own Paul Bowers reported that the city was backing off their bar plan, and now the News 4 team has a few new details about the proposed moratorium. Gregory Woods reports:

Tim Keane plans to push for a hold on any new bars moving into downtown Charleston for the next three years. His hope is to have a diverse group of businesses along the upper King Street corridor and along East Bay and Market streets.

“We want to request a three year moratorium, to stop any new bars from coming into the overlay Market, King, and East Bay area,” said Keane.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley says a three-year hold will give them a chance to regroup.

“We will be able to take those three years and assess the area, and how the heavy concentration of bars and late night restaurant affect the neighborhood and come back with a better plan to address the issue,” said Riley.
Now, what that plan is, well, we'll all have to wait and see. Hopefully, the F&B community will realize the power they have and not sit idly by while the city crafts a service industry monstrosity. They need to make sure their voices are heard and their interests are met every step of the way. Only a more proactive approach will protect them.

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