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Letter: Charleston’s Choice

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Dear Editor,

I just read your post, “Silly Charleston SC.”  This is a major issue that I hope you will explore further.  In your post you referred to the detrimental impact this ordinance would have on the hospitality industry as well the potential equal protection violations. I could not agree with you more on both of those issues regarding.  However, the potential passage of this moratorium signals an even bigger problem for the Holy City.  The local government’s lack of respect for the city’s top industry and the small businesses that make up that industry could become a real issue in the near future.

The growth and progression of Charleston has been fostered by the hospitality industry, and to stifle its continued expansion with a possibility unconstitutional moratorium is absurd.  I can remember my grandfather telling me in the 1970s-80s no one went past Broad Street after dark.  By the time I was in high school, it was Calhoun Street and when I was in law school it was the Crosstown.

Since then one of downtown Charleston’s best new bar/restaurant currently operates a few blocks above the Crosstown.  Thus it will only be a matter of time, thanks to the hospitality industry, till there is a new saying.

Whether or not people want to admit it or not, Charleston has been cleaned up in large part by the small business people who took a risk and opened a new restaurant/bar.  As these establishments flourished and crowds flocked to them, the property around them became viable.  If it were not for these entrepreneurs that opened their business in what is now the proposed “Entertainment District Overlay Zone” it is doubtful that we would have the exceptional city we have now.

Had this moratorium been in effect in years past small business would have gone elsewhere and we would not have the growth we have now.

Currently, the Holy City is growing and attracting businesses at a phenomenal rate.  This is due to the 200,000+ tourists projected to visit each year.  The Lowcountry has become a must-visit destination for people all over the world, and Charleston is such an international destination that it the setting for a Bravo “reality” which focuses on local “high society.”  Regardless of what people may think about Southern Charm , it shows off the beauty of Charleston to an international audience.

Needless to say thirty years ago Charleston would never have been brought up in a discussion about places to visit let alone be No. 1 if it weren’t for the small businesses that make up the hospitality industry.

With the era of mayor Joe Riley coming to an end, this moratorium hints at the much bigger issue.  Where is the City’s leadership going to take Charleston?  This is a crucial point in Charleston’s history as it gets ready to elects a new mayor for the first time in four decades.  If passing unnecessary and unconstitutional restrictions that ultimately hinder small businesses is the future, then Charleston has a real problem.

Small business is what built, and continues to grow, Charleston and to hinder it now is outrageous!

As a Charlestonian who desperately misses his home, I cannot help but express this serious concern for the future of my hometown. Hopefully the City officials will see the real problem they are creating and correct it.  In the meantime I ask that you please stay on top of this issue.

Thanks,

Robert W. Harrell III
Columbia, S.C.

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SIC SEZ

sic speaking

Wow … very nice. I’m sure there are plenty of things we disagree on but this is clearly not one of them.  Your assessment is right on the mark.  Charleston’s choice needs to be empowering these businesses, not attacking them.  Thanks for passing this along, Trey.