Public speaks out against proposed Late Night Ordinance

Public speaks out against proposed Late Night Ordinance

Thursday night, business owners and Charleston residents sounded off against the city's proposed late night bar ordinance.

It would force new bars and restaurants on King Street from Broad to Poplar streets, and sections of Meeting, Market and East Bay Streets to close at midnight instead of at 2 a.m.

"The people here don't want this," one speaker said. "We just don't. Has anyone asked anyone in this room yet?"

"You've been great," another resident said. "Both of you guys have, but rethink this. No one wants it."

Mayor Joe Riley and Planning Director Tim Keane started the meeting with presentations saying they were concerned that too many bars in one place would create areas that were boring to be in during the day and too packed at night.

All but one of the meeting's speakers disagreed.

"Your problem is with the Board of Zoning Appeals that has allowed places that are non-compliant businesses to crowd a little too close together and overcrowd the parking and sidewalks," Jim Curley, the owner of AC's Bar and Grill said.

"I find it unfair to entrepreneurs that want to open businesses in the future by having some that are able to stay open till 2 a.m. and some till midnight," Boris Van Dyck, the owner of Ice Box, said.

People at Thursday night's forum were also concerned about how exactly the ordinance would work.

"Where are all these people going to go come midnight when all the other bars on King Street are already full," one speaker asked.

After the meeting, a lawyer representing several downtown businesses said it's too early to say if he considered tonight a win.

"It sounds like there's some change being made so it may be a little premature until we find out what those changes are and how much those changes incorporate what we heard here tonight," Elliot Smith said.

After the meeting ended, Tim Keane said the city would put the suggested changes in the proposal.

Next, the ordinance will go to the city's Planning Commission on August 20.