We are thrilled that the City of Charleston and the Dewberry Hotel have reached a legal agreement that will do several positive things, including allowing the hotel’s rooftop bar to remain open while giving neighbors assurance that the bar will meet 11 conditions set by a city zoning board when allowing it to open. City council approved the deal late last month and it was signed last week.

We’re also thrilled that the settlement averts an unprecedented decision by the SC Supreme Court that would have either closed the famous Citrus Club bar or crippled the city’s Zoning Appeals Board’s ability to regulate potentially negative impacts in our crowded city, where neighboring homes and businesses must find ways to coexist.

Dewberry’s famous Citrus Club bar may remain open under a legal agreement between the hotel and the city. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

These nasty alternatives are why we urged both parties last year to find a way to settle this matter, and we’re also glad the settlement promises to resolve an unrelated nearby issue. The Dewberry Hotel and the non-profit Dewberry Foundation have agreed to contract with the Second Presbyterian Church to repair and restore the steeply leaning brick wall along Charlotte Street, which is nearby but not actually part. The wall, which separates the churchyard from the street, has notably leaned over the sidewalk for years, and the city recently closed the sidewalk to pedestrians as a precaution.

The foundation has pledged to pay for all expenses necessary for the repair by carefully tearing down the existing wall and building a replacement by reusing the existing bricks. Importantly, incorporating this work into the settlement resolves, at least for now, the delicate legal question of whether the church or the city was responsible for repairing the wall in the first place – a question which had slowed down any progress of its repair over time. years.

The settlement includes an attached contract which states that the foundation should try to complete this work by the end of the year, but the settlement also includes a deadline of December 31, 2023 before inaction on the wall nullifies the OK. We urge the church, foundation, and city to complete this costly but necessary work as soon as possible.

Although the repair of the wall is a welcome and recent novelty, the most important aspect here is the protection of the neighborhood. Original plans for the hotel in 2011 showed a swimming pool and glassed-in area for a spa and fitness center on the top floor, but when The Dewberry opened years later, its eighth level was fitted out for space. events, with a bar and an outdoor terrace. The hotel asked the city’s zoning board to allow use of the bar, but the board refused. The Dewberry then went to court and a judge’s 2017 decision opened the bar. The city appealed and the Court of Appeal overturned the earlier decision. The settlement ensures that the decision of the Court of Appeals remains the final say in this matter, and the authority of the Board of Zoning Appeals in matters such as these remains clear.

As we have noted, this authority is crucial in managing the inevitable tension between residents and business interests, whether it is a bar, a travel agency, construction works or otherwise.

The 11 conditions the council set for rooftop use in 2011 will be recorded in the Charleston County Deeds Registry, according to Assistant City Attorney Julia Copeland. “If Dewberry ever decides to sell, those restrictions will remain on the Citrus Bar,” she tells us.

Importantly, the neighborhood was included in the settlement discussions and residents had ample opportunity to ensure their concerns were addressed. That’s a big part of why the deal passed through the city council with little controversy.

The Mazyck-Wraggborough Neighborhood Association formed a committee to delve into the details of the settlement, and the final agreement calls for The Dewberry to work with the neighborhood “to discuss and explore” five goals: working together on trees and other plants along Henrietta and Charlotte streets; other neighborhood beautification efforts; find a solution to the pruning of trees by utility companies and possibly add more trees to the streets near the hotel; improve neighborhood parks; and support efforts to bury power lines.

We hope the settlement will permanently reset the relationship between the prominent Marion Square hotel and the neighborhood just to the east, as it reinforces the city’s role as arbiter.

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