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Charleston Council limits types of businesses on East End

Charleston Council unanimously passed a bill prohibiting strip clubs, adult book and video stores, pawn shops, check cashing establishments other than banks, gun shops, pay as you go phone stores and gambling parlors from opening along Washington Street East from Sidney to Morris streets.

The ban will go into effect today, East End Main Street Executive Director Ric Cavender said.

Cavender and other supporters said the change would protect existing businesses.

Over the past decade, a total of $250 million in public and private money has been invested in the East End, Cavender said. That figures includes everything from the money invested to build Power Park to streetscape improvements.

The types of businesses banned were identified as being those that could deter future economic growth in the community, Cavender said. Cavender has been a vocal supporter of the measure since it was introduced. 

"We're really proud to champion a bill that protects existing businesses and promotes economic development in the future," he said.

Charleston Councilman Marc Weintraub, who represents a portion of the area along Washington St. East, sees Monday's passage of the bill as a victory for existing businesses and the community as a whole.

"It really was the businesses that asked for this," he said.

Public entities and private businesses have invested millions of dollars into turning the East End into an eclectic destination in Charleston, Weintraub said.

"It's remarkable the amount of investment that has been made," he said.

Weintraub also said the types of businesses were identified because of the potential to "deter" economic development. The businesses were also identified because of the element they can bring into an area, he said.

Pay as you go phone stores are prohibited from opening because the phones are typically associated with drug dealers, he said.

"I'm not saying that everyone who has a pay as you go phone is a drug dealer, but those phones are typically associated with the drug trade," Weintraub said.

Weintraub said he had not heard any negative feedback about the measure.

Mayor Danny Jones applauded the community for stepping up and taking the lead in attempting to protect the economy in the East End.

"This was a community effort," Jones said. "This was the community's call."

Existing East End businesses are exempt from the ban, Cavender said. 

Council also passed a measure that will change parking along Virginia Street East from Laidley Street to Hale Street.

Parking on the north side of Virginia Street E., which is the left hand side of the street, will be eliminated from Laidley Street to Hale Street. Those parking spaces will now be moved to the south side of the street, which is the right hand side.

Parking will be permitted on the south side of the street from Laidley to Capitol Street. The parking from Capitol to Hale Street will be completely eliminated, Jones said.

The change will result in a net loss of three parking spaces, he said.

Jones will introduce a bill to council that would create three additional parking spaces on the south side of the street from Capitol to Hale to make up that loss sometime in the near future, he said.

"I'll probably have that bill introduced at the next council meeting," Jones said.

The change in parking was requested by the owners of the old Charleston House Hotel, which will soon be re-branded as a Four Points by Sheraton.

The owners, BBL Carlton, also own the Recovery Sports Grill on Virginia Street E. Parking will only be permitted on the south side of the street from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Assistant Mayor Rod Blackstone hopes city staff can begin making the transition by the end of this week, he said. City public works crews will have to change the no parking signs and possibly paint the curbs on the north side of the street yellow to designate them as a no parking zone.

Council also passed a measure allowing the city to apply for a $27,640 State Historic Preservation Office grant to study the possibility of creating another historic district in the East End.

The boundary for the study area is from Greenbrier Street to Morris Street and from Washington Street E. to Piedmont Road.

Council also approved a measure allowing for the city to apply for a $280,000 grant from ArtPlace to implement the public art plan.

ArtPlace is a consortium of national foundations dedicated to spurring the creation and preservation of art. 

Councilwoman Susie Salisbury, a Republican from Fort Hill, said the grant would be used to pay for conservation efforts for existing pieces of public art. 

The money would also be used to hire a full time staff member to manage the public art plan, she said. The funds could also be used to create temporary pieces of public art in the city, Salisbury said.

The application for the grant is due Feb. 15, and it should be awarded by the end of May, she said.             

Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fallon@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him at www.twitter.com/PaulBFallon.


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