City council to vote on midnight bar closings, moratorium today at 5 p.m.

Two minutes to midnight

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My fellow imbibers, beer-livers, and sophisticated drunkards — and yes, that includes the fellows in the Charleston Brown Water Society despite your rather detestable name — the day we have long since dreaded has returned. Tomorrow, Tues. Sept. 23, Charleston City Council will revisit Mayor Riley, Chief Mullen, and City Planner Tim Keane's dastardly plan to destroy nightlife in Charleston.

Joe the Mayor graced the cover of our June 11, 2014 issue all about the late-night ordinance - PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SCOTT SUCHY
  • Photo illustration by Scott Suchy
  • Joe the Mayor graced the cover of our June 11, 2014 issue all about the late-night ordinance
And this time, Council will not just be voting on the original zoning ordinance — the one that Riley, et al, dropped on them just days before a council meeting (and which our councilmen and -women hastily approved) banning new bars in the town's entertainment districts from serving alcohol after midnight — they'll be voting on a revised ordinance that will ban the creation of any new bars in the DMZ , err ... Upper King Street and Market areas, serving alcohol after midnight for three, long and horrible years.

Now, that might sound more or less like the same ordinance, and, well, it is and it isn't. The first ordinance would change zoning in the aforementioned entertainment districts permanently — and which, because of the poorly written ordinance's vagueness, may have systemically ensured that all bars close at midnight — while Bar Ban 2.0h-No has a very specific end time, 36 months.

In both ordinances, it must be noted, new hotel bars would still be allowed to serve alcohol until 2 a.m., a move that will surely please the big-time developers and hoteliers who are intent on constructing one eye-sore hotel after another along Upper King and Meeting streets. 

It's also worthy pointing out that the revised ordinances eliminates virtually all the vagaries of the initial proposal — including questions about who is grandfathered and who is not — and more or less states what Riley, Keane, and Mullen didn't have the balls to say the first time: they wanted an outright ban. Instead, they tried to enact a ban without actually saying they wanted a ban, and so they crafted a roundabout way to get what they wanted, hence all this zoning-change hoo-ha. 

Sadly, no one seems to care about Councilman Dean Riegel's decidedly sensible approach to the apparent rowdiness in the Upper King entertainment district, a rowdiness that, aside from a few high-profile incidents, is largely the result of an increased police crackdown on drunk people walking home instead of, you know, driving.

Recently, Keane has even admitted that the city — and by that we'll take it to mean the Riley administration — doesn't believe Charleston should even have an entertainment district. Apparently, no one has told them we actually have two, if not a third once you consider the bars and restaurants sprouting up in the NoMo area. 

The city's Planning Commission recently voted on the revised ordinance, and while they gave it a thumbs up, they voted against the three-year ban. Instead, they thought one should suffice. On Tuesday, we'll see what the men and women of city council have to say about it. The meeting starts at 5 p.m. at City Hall. 

Until then, be sure to contact the men and women of City Council and let them know exactly how you feel.


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