Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg's latest plan for slowing hotel growth on the peninsula will focus on "empowering" a board that makes key approvals for hotel projects, city officials said at a tourism forum this week.
The proposal, which could come before City Council before the end of the month, could also include establishing minimum and maximum room requirements and expanding the qualifications for a project to be considered "full service."
City planning director Jacob Lindsey presented an overview of ideas for the upcoming proposal during a public meeting Wednesday night at the Charleston Museum.
Dan Riccio, director of the Department of Livability and Tourism, led a presentation of the city's progress toward the goals laid out in the 2015 version of its tourism management plan.
Those accomplishments ranged from the completion of a major parking study this year to the addition of new tourism-related positions at City Hall, including one to oversee special events and another to monitor the carriage horse industry.
Lindsey wrapped up the presentations with a brief look at what Tecklenburg's next proposal related to hotel growth will likely include. This will be the mayor's fourth attempt at rallying support on Council for such a proposal.
This latest version will be similar to a deferred proposal that's been idle since August.
That proposal focused on the Board of Zoning Appeals, which reviews proposed hotel projects that don't meet the city's code and require special exceptions.
Right now, in a certain section of the upper King Street corridor, developers can seek an exception to the standard 50-room limit and build as many rooms that can fit on the site.
The board granted such an exception in February by approving a 252-room hotel at 431 Meeting St. That decision may have been "the straw that broke the camel's back" on this issue, Tecklenburg said.
An appeal by the Historic Charleston Foundation was voted down last week.
The proposed changes, Lindsey said Wednesday, could include new specifications for what defines a project as a "full-service" hotel.
To get around the city's 50-room limit in most areas of the peninsula, a development must include meeting space and a restaurant that's open every day. That full-service criteria, Lindsey said, could be expanded to include new requirements that benefit the general public.
The proposal would also seek to protect offices, housing and existing retail storefronts and strengthen the Board of Zoning Appeals' authority.
A new proposal could come before City Council as soon as the next meeting, Tecklenburg said. It will be "along the lines of" what was described on Wednesday, he said.
"I think that's the way to go at this point," he said.