- Associated Press - Friday, July 18, 2014

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Charleston Mayor Joe Riley says the city needs to require some bars to close earlier or other businesses will refuse to locate nearby.

Most of those testifying at a meeting Thursday opposed plans to require new downtown bars to close at midnight. They say having two closing times will be confusing. Existing bars now must close by 2 a.m.

Chuck Lauer with the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association was among those criticizing the idea.

“It’s unfair. How can you have one bar up the block open until 2 a.m. and another open until midnight?” Lauer said.

The ordinance would also make it harder for new businesses and restaurants to succeed, he said.

The ordinance also would prohibit many businesses in the downtown area from operating between midnight and 6 a.m. if they sell alcohol. It would not apply to restaurant and bars in hotels that have more than 20 living or sleeping units.

The mayor said he does not oppose bars

“They are a good place for people to get together and have fun,” he said.

But Riley says he’s worried that too many businesses that sell alcohol are concentrated in the area. His plans for the area include a mix of housing, retail establishments, technology companies and offices, as well as bars and restaurants.

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