A proposed ordinance that would stunt the growth of late night bars in Cannonborough-Elliotborough could become law Thursday night.
Charleston City Council is inviting public comments about the ordinance at its 5 p.m. meeting. The measure would create a "general business late night overlay zone" for the area west of King Street from Morris Street to the Crosstown. After the discussion, City Council could adopt the ordinance.
The zoning change would require new bars, restaurants, food marts and gas stations that want to open in the downtown neighborhoods to close by 11 p.m.
The rule would not affect hours at existing businesses, and it also wouldn't apply to businesses that applied for licenses before the ordinance was proposed in the summer.
Cannonborough-Elliotborough has become particularly ripe for development in recent years. As space for new bars and restaurants runs out on Upper King Street, many entrepreneurs have looked to the nearby neighborhood for new projects, some of which include restaurants and bars.
The Warehouse opened on St. Philip Street last year, and a beer garden is planned for Spring and Coming streets.
"We felt like we came to a tipping point with late-night establishments coming into the neighborhoods, and we had to be careful to ensure that they didn't ... damage the residential quality of life, and therefore we created this overlay," city planner Tim Keane said.
The issue gained momentum when residents of Cannonborough-Elliotborough complained at a September council meeting about drunken, noisy crowds filtering into the neighborhood when bars close on the weekends.
Councilman Aubry Alexander said the city has since added nine police officers in the neighborhood to control noise.
Bars in the neighborhood contend that they are not contributing to the noise problem. All but two neighborhood establishments already close before midnight.
Owners of The Warehouse and Cutty's, the only two bars in the area that stay open late, have said their patrons are residents themselves, and are generally more considerate of the neighborhood than those coming from Upper King.
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail
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