Charleston City Council defers vote on Hampton Park in packed meeting

VIDEO: Charleston City Council defers vote on Hampton Park in packed meeting

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It's going to be a little bit longer before Charleston City Council makes a final decision on improvements to Hampton Park.

The improvements include a range of items from a large event space to a café, and it's the café which would serve alcohol that's most controversial.

Some residents said these improvements would make the park better but others said it could create problems with children around and also with traffic.

"Hampton Park is an extraordinarily active park, one speaker in favor of the park said. "I'd make the argument it's the most active park in the city. It's the only one I can think of that has a road going through it."

"Charleston doesn't need more places for adults to eat and drink," a speaker against the park said. "A new restaurant, coffee house or food truck opens every day. What Charleston needs is more family friendly open spaces available to the general public at no cost to enjoy."

The council already approved these improvements in the first reading. Their vote tonight delays the second reading for 29 days until their next meeting.

Also in tonight’s meeting, city council approved taking a look at an ordinance that would put new rules on new businesses in downtown Charleston.
It would limit the number of new late night businesses per block.

"What we've heard from the residents is ‘We’re not opposed to the restaurants,” Steve Palmer, the chair of the Late Night Activity Committee said. “We just don't want so many in one block. I think that would also help to encourage development in other parts of the city other than upper King Street. We see what's happening with upper Meeting St, the neck and everything that's moving that way and require businesses within a few blocks of a neighborhood to have a special permit.

There will be a first reading at the next city council meeting. The current late night ordinance prohibits any new bars and restaurants from staying open past midnight. It is in effect through September 22nd.

The council also passed a resolution to start an annual nine-day observance in memory of the nine victims killed inside Mother Emanuel AME Church. The observance will begin June 17th and last for nine days, one day for each of the victims. During that time, nine oak trees will be planted in separate locations throughout the city.

City Council also gave initial approval to an ordinance that will affect panhandlers who work the streets.

It would prohibit anyone including panhandlers from passing items or taking items from people in cars on the streets. The city argues the ordinance is needed to address safety concerns about people stepping out into traffic.

The fine is up to 30 days in jail, a nearly $1,100 dollar fine.

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