- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Charleston City Council has endorsed a proposal that new bars that open in the downtown tourist area must close by midnight for the next year.

Multiple media outlets reported that city council voted 9-3 Tuesday night to restrict the hours for any new bars that open in the peninsula’s entertainment district over the next year.

The proposal still needs two more votes by the council before it takes effect.

Mayor Joe Riley says the moratorium would give the city time to do an in-depth study of the impact of the growing bar district and create a better management plan. The city plans to create a committee to conduct the study and report to the council every six weeks.

The study is to be completed by Sept. 22, 2015.

Steve Carroll, president of the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association, said his group has not supported any version of the plan to restrict bar sales.

“We’re in the hospitality industry. Safety comes first or we wouldn’t be successful,” Carroll said. “If people are doing something wrong, make examples of the people who are.”

Carroll said the city’s moratorium targets a specific industry. That’s wrong, he said. “We think it’s extreme.”

Harry Fendrich, a resident of the Radcliffeborough neighborhood, said downtown residents overwhelmingly support a moratorium. “I’m not aware of any neighborhood association on the peninsula that opposes the ordinance.”

Riley, Police Chief Greg Mullen and city planning director Tim Keane have said the concentration of bars in the entertainment district was growing too quickly, and they were concerned that would be harmful to public safety and business diversity.

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