Wednesday, July 20, 2011

City Council moves forward on housing developments, horse safety

Posted by Paul Bowers on Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 5:42 PM

Here is a rundown of what happened at the Charleston City Council meeting Tuesday night:

• In a public hearing for a zoning ordinance that would allow housing to be built on five acres along Albemarle Road near Folly Road Boulevard, nearby residents expressed concerns that housing built there would be aimed at attracting College of Charleston students. The bill passed its first reading.

• Residents of some downtown neighborhoods also spoke out against the possible expansion of the Morris Square luxury townhomes that would eliminate green space near the Cannon Street YMCA, citing as a major concern the possibility that college students would move into the housing. The bill passed its second reading.

• The Tourism Commission proposed ordinances to regulate the horse-drawn carriage tour industry, drawing the ire of industry members and sparking a lengthy debate in Council. The ordinances, if passed, will reduce the temperature at which a fan must be used in stables from 90 degrees to 80 degrees, reduce the ambient temperature at which horses’ internal temperatures must be taken from 90 to 85 degrees, and increase minimum stall size when an owner remodels a stable. The city currently requires all carriage companies to pull their horses off the road when the ambient temperature hits 98 degrees, but the thermometer the city has used for years is three stories high on Calhoun Street and often gets a lower temperature reading than the temperature near the street in and around the City Market. One of the proposed ordinances would relocate that thermometer to a spot in the Market. The ordinances, which were based on recommendations from three veterinarians, passed their first reading; their next reading will be in August.

• Furthermore on the horse carriage issue, Councilman Tim Mallard, a frequent and vocal critic of Mayor Joseph P. Riley, told Mayor Riley that he had “cheated” by authorizing the city to purchase a new thermometer for the sake of comparing City Market readings with Calhoun Street readings. He said the thermometer should not be purchased unless and until the relevant ordinance passed. Riley then proposed a motion to authorize spending the roughly $4,000 to buy the new thermometer and have it installed; the council approved the motion.

• City attorney Charlton deSaussure announced that the City would act as a defendant in a lawsuit filed against Carnival Cruise Lines. The lawsuit alleges that Carnival will be violating ordinances about height, zoning, and preservation of view corridors by docking cruise ships at the soon-to-be-upgraded Union Pier ship terminal. “The way I see it, we are supporting our need to interpret and enforce our ordinances and not let it get away from us,” deSaussure said. Mayor Riley re-emphasized that he thought the lawsuit was “just as rogue of a legal action as what happened with Boeing.” He added, “These people have sued to stop the cruise business; there’s no doubt about it.”

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