James Island hang out spot temporarily closed after citations

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 2:58 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2021 at 6:49 PM EDT
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JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The Barrel on Folly Road is a mostly open-air space that often hosts live music, events, food trucks, and guests and their dogs.

The city of Charleston’s Director of Livability and Tourism Dan Riccio says in June the city started receiving complaints and concerns from nearby residents about guests of The Barrel parking in their neighborhood and along the roads.

He says city officials inspected the business and issued two citations on June 25. One was from the Fire Marshal for over occupancy and the other from zoning for not meeting parking requirements to accommodate all guests. Riccio says The Barrel’s occupancy exceeded 100 people, with the requirement for the business set at only 49.

Legally right now there’s only 16 parking spaces to accommodate that he says.

Riccio says even though it is an outdoor space they still have an occupancy load. He says they have never been approved for the outdoor area through the zoning department.

Riccio says they are working with the owner and zoning officials to develop a plan to bring the business into compliance with zoning and occupancy requirements and legally accommodate guests.

He says this is a common concern and process they get from the public on a regular basis.

Zach Barrack says he’s been coming to The Barrel for the past few years. He says he usually parks down the road behind The Barrel where no houses are or parks at a friend’s house and walks. He says he’s never had a resident complain to him.

He says he can’t wait for The Barrel to open back up.

“I’m definitely confident in their abilities. They seem to have a good plan in place from what I’ve heard, so I’m definitely confident,” Barrack said. “I mean, there’s no way the city can shut down a place that’s not only a great place for the humans, but a great place for the dogs. And especially with it being open air with COVID and everything going on.”

Riccio says another court hearing will be in two weeks.

Chad Reynolds, the owner of The Barrel, released the following statement:

As far as occupancy goes, I am working to comply with what the City is requiring in order to increase my occupancy. The Certificate of Occupancy from 2013 states that it is only 49, including the yard. I questioned that last part in a meeting with Zoning in late 2019 and was told that they didn’t have the same requirements for outdoor patron use areas back in 2013 when my plans were approved. Regardless, I’ve hired a design professional who is working with me on a plan that will create more parking spaces on my property thus decreasing my yard space, but also increasing my occupancy. We just have to find that balance. But yet I worry that, given how badly my neighbors behind me seemingly want The Barrel gone, I might be fighting an extremely difficult battle as they have linked up with some folks with a lot of pull in our community. I hope this isn’t the case, but it is this fear that is causing me to lose sleep at night.

To the insufficient parking citation, for 6+ years my patrons parked in the right-of-way down Battery Island Dr. and along Folly Road with no issues. At least none that I was made aware of. But a unilateral decision was made many months ago to completely surround my business with 17 No Parking signs. Starting at the Folly Boat and going around the corner pretty far down Battery Island Dr. But rather than fight this action, I am willing to sacrifice valuable yard space in order to hopefully make everyone happy. I hope to have a site plan submitted to the City by Friday.”

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