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Good afternoon. Want to get a beer with Rep. Joe Cunningham? We hope you'll join us for our first-ever "Pints & Politics" event next Thursday. It's free, but you'll want to reserve a spot. And if you don't already, you may want to prepare for that chat by subscribing to the Palmetto Politics newsletter. It's the easiest way to keep up with S.C. political news throughout the week. 

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Mayor John Tecklenburg said the approval of a 252-room hotel at 431 Meeting Street may prompt more members of City Council to support a ordinance change that would give the city's Board of Zoning Appeals more power to turn down requests to build large hotels. File/Wade Spees/Staff.

THE ONE TO WATCH: Charleston's BZA-Z, explained

During Charleston's tourism management plan update, which was held Wednesday evening at the Charleston Museum, Mayor John Tecklenburg said that empowering the city's BZA-Z will be key to slowing down hotel development on the peninsula. So, what is the BZA-Z?

The Board of Zoning Appeals - Zoning, which is one of two zoning appeals boards, is made up of seven Charleston citizens who are appointed by City Council. Those members cannot hold any other public office or work for the city of Charleston. Its counterpart, the Board of Zoning Appeals—Site Design also has seven members appointed by Council. Many of the requests which that board reviews are applications to remove grand trees

The BZA-Z does three things: 

  • Hears requests for special exceptions to traditional zoning regulations
  • Hears requests for variances from the city's zoning requirements
  • Hears and decides appeals to staff decisions on zoning matters

The particular function which has recently brought attention to the BZA-Z is the board's task of reviewing and voting on special exception applications for hotel projects. That function recently led to the approval of a 252-room hotel project proposed at 431 Meeting Street

In order to be granted a special exception, a project needs to meet a set of criteria. In that case, since the lot is on a certain part of the peninsula, and the project fulfilled requirements laid out in the city's ordinance to be considered a "full-service hotel," the room count, instead of being capped at 50, essentially becomes unlimited.  

Proposed changes, which Tecklenburg said could come before Council as soon as the next meeting or two, could change the language in the city's ordinance — which dictates how the board makes its decision  to give BZA-Z members more power when reviewing such applications. 

The BZA-Z usually meets at 5:15 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of every month on the first floor of the Gaillard Center. The meetings can be lengthy, depending on what's on the agenda. (The meeting where the hotel at 431 Meeting received approval went well past 10 p.m.) 

The next meeting, on April 16, includes applications related to restaurants, residences and a 115-room hotel near City Market. 

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OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS:

OTHER STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW: 

  • An ex-owner of a failed resort off Hilton Head Island was accused of defrauding investors and misusing funds. (Post and Courier)
  • Two Charleston-area cancer treatment practices have merged, creating the largest group of oncology specialists in the region. (Post and Courier)
  • federal judge threatened to block Carnival from docking cruise ships at U.S. ports, which could include one in Charleston. (Associated Press)
  • Charleston County says it will close McLeod Plantation during the U.S. Women's Open to support tournament operations. (Post and Courier)
  • University of Sydney economist researched some of the unintended consequences of cities' new plastic bag bans. (Planet Money)
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Members of the Charleston Fire Department march in the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade Saturday, March 16, 2019. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

SOUND SMART AT WORK:

"Hey boss, did you know S.C.'s economic ties to Ireland are flourishing? The largest Irish-owned company in the U.S. has 13 operations here."

Ireland's diplomat to the U.S. just spent the week in Charleston. The fallout after Brexit could mean even stronger business relationships between Irish companies and South Carolina, he said

HIRES AND PROMOTIONS:

  • Chris Singleton, son of Emanuel shooting victim Shardona Coleman-Singleton, is joining the RiverDogs as director of Community Outreach.
  • Christopher West was named chief operating officer of Nutty Goodness
  • Chief nursing officer at Trident Medical Center is Mary Kaye Halterman.
  • Christina Ward joined Friends of Fisher House as executive director.
  • Vice president of sales at Daniel Island Real Estate is now Jeff Leonard.
  • Jennifer Wienke has joined exaqueo as business operations manager.  

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Reach Emily Williams at 843-937-5553. Follow her on Twitter @emilye_williams.

Emily Williams is a business reporter at The Post and Courier, covering tourism and employment. She also writes the Business Headlines newsletter, which is published twice a week. Before moving to Charleston, her byline appeared in The Boston Globe.