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Board of Zoning Appeals denies Charleston hotel's request for rooftop bar

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

The Board of Zoning Appeals has denied a Charleston hotel's request to open a rooftop bar by a vote of 4 to 1. 

The request was made by the Dewberry Hotel on Meeting Street which is between Marion Square and Mother Emanuel AME Church.  

Up until Tuesday morning – the owner was planning on asking for permission to change two things: 1) Adding a bar to the rooftop. 2) Extending the closing times for rooftop activities from 10 p.m. to midnight.

The owner, however, pulled the request to extend the hours.

In 2011, plans were approved for the hotel, but limited the use of the rooftop. Essentially, they were approved to have spa and fitness area and some portions of the roof could be used for patrons, but not all of it. The owner of the hotel asked the Board of Zoning Appeals to change that.

“Rooftop bars have an interesting set of conditions around them and, whenever we seek to approve a rooftop bar, we want to make sure that the owners have worked with the adjacent neighborhoods to attenuate sound – to design those rooftop spaces in a way that protects quality of life,” Jacob Lindsey, the City of Charleston’s Planning Director, said.

Lindsey adds if the board declines the request then the rooftop of the Dewberry will remain a spa and fitness area with some use of the rooftop deck. And if they approve it – then they can use the area on the rooftop deck for a bar.

But many residents in the area are not happy with the potential modification.

“Bars don’t add to residential neighborhoods… A bar means more people, more cars, noise, trash… And the hours, even if they close at a certain time, there’s activity after that. We’re trying to live and work here,” Vangie Rainsford said.

Rainsford has lived in the Mazyck-Wraggborough Neighborhood, a historic neighborhood the Dewberry backs up to, for more than 20 years.

Rainsford adds she’s not worried about just their neighborhood – residents fear this could become a domino effect across the city.

“If developers are able to come forward with plans and you work out concessions and conditions and you’re allowed to come back six years later… What’s six years? 10 years? 15 years? Everything that we’ve put in place with thoughtfulness could be erased.”

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