Mayoral Candidate F&B Preliminary Questionnaire: BAR and Zoning Process & Procedure

Candidate's answers are listed in alphabetical order. If we have not published answers from a candidate, that is because we have not received a response from that candidate to our questionnaire. These pages will be updated in due course as we receive any additional responses.

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5. BAR and Zoning Process and Procedure

Given Charleston’s rich history and beautiful architecture, historic preservation is an important issue in Charleston. Correspondingly, BAR procedures and zoning approvals are directly relevant to business owners starting or modifying their businesses. Furthermore, these processes are relevant to the presence of adequate affordable workforce housing for F&B employees on the Peninsula, which by nature requires higher density than uses of property targeted to more affluent residents. These issues have been the subject of much debate recently, including the Sgt. Jasper issue and Andrés Duany’s report. 

Question 5: 

Please articulate how, and to what degree, preservation is important in a developing Charleston.


Our Charleston brand must be protected – it’s what put us on the world map. I will work with developers, neighbors, and stakeholders to quickly move projects forward that benefit our city. I will also have the backbone to say “no” when development could harm our city.

There are regions of the city anxious for more development – like parts of West Ashley and the Upper Peninsula. Initial plans are in place for both. As mayor, I will accelerate the implementation of these plans. Our challenge is to be smart and responsible with growth, guiding it to where we want it, and keeping it away from places where it threatens quality of life.


Preserving Charleston’s historic character is an important part of our city’s appeal to residents and visitors alike. As mayor, I would be committed to maintaining preservation efforts in Charleston that honor our past and make our beautiful city livable for all and a unique place for visitors. I do think it is important to allow for diverse growth and change in appropriate parts of our city.


Preservation is essential  to both our quality  of life and our local economy.  That’s why, for example, I have called on the Beach Company to withdraw it lawsuit  calling  for the abolition of the Board of Architectural Review. It is also why I have called for the BAR to be reformed  in ways that provide  additional protections to our most historic areas, while making room for a somewhat  less stringent standard  outside  of the Historic District, which would give us one of the tools we need to incentivize the creation  of affordable housing for our residents.
To learn more about my affordable housing plan, please see the Economy  and Jobs section  of my plan:

Question 5b: 

Do you believe that the BAR’s or the BZA’s processes, policies, membership, guidelines, or any other relevant procedural elements need to be reevaluated? Why or why not? 


In short – yes.

The BAR is our city’s #1 defense against overdevelopment and ensuring historic preservation. The purpose of the board is “the preservation and protection of the old historic or architecturally worthy structures and quaint neighborhoods which impart a distinct aspect to the city and which serve as visible reminders of the historical and cultural heritage of the city, the state, and the nation.”

With the rapid growth in our city, processes needs to be updated and streamlined, so business owners are not sitting in permit purgatory for months.  

Andres Duany recommendation to split the Board of Architectural Review into two separate boards is great: one focused on alterations to historic structures and smaller buildings, and one focused on larger buildings. Mayor Riley has taken steps in this direction and I would continue. 


It’s incredibly important that Charleston preserves and maintains its historic areas and protects the architectural aesthetic that makes our city special. I am committed to the existence of the BAR. However, I am very interested in the recommendations made in the Duany report and finding ways that we can improve the BAR process and other city regulations to make it more predictable to businesses and citizens, address the city’s housing affordability challenges, and prepare for residential and commercial growth.


Yes. I have proposed following Andres Duany’s recommendations for BAR reform, as well his suggestion that we replace height limits  with floor limits,  thereby preserving Charleston’s skyline  while allowing for greater architectural diversity. In addition, I have pledged to give our residents, neighborhoods and other stakeholders a larger voice in the BAR and BZA processes.

To learn more, please see the Livability and Quality of Life section  of my plan: