web recurring courts

An Atlanta-based company that owns property on Cannon Street is challenging the city of Charleston's decision to reject a request to build a short-term rental on the lot in the Cannonborough-Elliottborough neighborhood.

Apres Midi LLC, the owner of 118 Cannon St., filed an appeal in the Charleston County Court of Common Pleas last week.

The owner applied late last year to build a new unit on the property that would be used as a short-term rental. The property is within the small overlay zone downtown where short-term rentals are allowed.

The city's zoning administrator, Lee Batchelder, denied the request based on his interpretation of the zoning law. He said a property must be a legal dwelling unit before it can be converted into a short-term rental, and the Cannon Street property wasn't large enough to become a legal dwelling in the first place, according to the lawsuit filed last week.

The owner responded that "nowhere in the ST Overlay Zone Ordinance ... does it require that the legal dwelling unit be an existing residential unit. In fact the ordinance defines Short Term Rental use as a commercial use."

The city's Board of Zoning Appeals ultimately sided with Batchelder, which is why Apres Midi LLC has taken its appeal to court.

The city has not responded to the lawsuit, but city attorney Frances Cantwell said the administration intends "to vigorously defend the decision of the board and the zoning administrator."

The outcome of the case could clarify how the city's zoning officials deal with newly constructed short-term rentals in the neighborhood. Given the limited amount of vacant space in that area, it's unlikely too many properties would be affected at this point.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 843-937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.

Abigail Darlington is a local government reporter focusing primarily on the City of Charleston. She previously covered local arts & entertainment, technology, innovation, tourism and retail for the Post and Courier.