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Mayor Riley emphasizes livability during forum on midnight bar ordinance

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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

Mayor Joe Riley emphasized the importance of maintaining high livability downtown during a Thursday public forum on a midnight bar ordinance proposed for downtown Charleston's entertainment business.

The mayor, speaking at a public forum at the Charleston Museum, said that there was a lot of misinformation, and that the ordinance would not affect existing businesses.

City officials have said that the ordinance would affect future businesses spanning King Street from Broad to Poplar streets, and sections of Meeting and East Bay Streets.

Riley said his concern is too many late night bars and restaurants that could make some areas "boring" during the day and "not pleasant." Planning Director Tim Keane said bars are a good thing, but the issue was there being too many of them.

The South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association was also on hand for the public meeting and said that the ordinance would have a negative impact on Charleston's tourism industry.

One man said he was concerned that the ordinance was aimed at keeping young people from going out in Charleston.

When another man asked the audience who was in favor of the late night ordinance, only a few people raised their hands.

The ordinance states midnight as the cut-off for alcohol sales for all new bars and establishments in that entertainment district.

The proposal passed at its first reading, introducing the temporary ban. There's still a lot of moves that must be made before it's permanent.

After the public forum on Thursday, revisions will be presented to the planning commission on August 20.

Then City Council will give it a second and potentially third reading in September. The goal for the measure is to bring a variety of businesses downtown.

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