Judge: BAR overstepped powers, authority on redevelopment of Sergeant Jasper site

CHARLESTON, S.C. (News Release) — On June 3, 2015, the City of Charleston Board of Architectural Review denied The Beach Company’s application to redevelop the Sergeant Jasper site. The Beach Company appealed the BAR’s decision to the Circuit Court. On February 19, 2016, The Beach Company presented its appeal to the Honorable J.C. Nicholson, Jr., Circuit Court Judge. After considering the arguments put forth by The Beach Company as well as the City of Charleston, Historic Charleston Foundation, Preservation Society of Charleston, Charlestowne Neighborhood Association and Harleston Village Neighborhood Association, Judge Nicholson ordered the parties into mediation to come to an agreement on the design and approvals process for the site. On April 12, mediation ended in an impasse. Today, Judge Nicholson issued his Order concluding that the BAR Ordinances are constitutional but that the BAR overstepped its powers and authority by denying The Beach Company’s application even though the proposed project complied with the applicable zoning restrictions as to height and mass.

John Darby, President and CEO of The Beach Company, praised the decision and stated: “Judge Nicholson was very well prepared at the hearing and totally understood The Beach Company’s position in this matter. As we have said all along, The Beach Company supports the BAR and its purpose, but the ordinances do not empower the BAR to deny an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness based on matters subject to applicable zoning restrictions, such as height. It is reassuring that Judge Nicholson took such a big step toward protecting property rights in Charleston. The Beach Company intends to improve the Sergeant Jasper property with a quality project of which we can all be proud.

The Beach Company understands that this matter is subject to appeal to the South Carolina Supreme Court but is hopeful that its arguments will prevail there as they did with Judge Nicholson. “Rather than clutter the court system and further waste taxpayers’ dollars, we are hopeful that the Mayor and City Council will focus their efforts on improving its approval procedures for such projects going forward and take control of the process to prevent future applicants from unnecessary and costly delays like The Beach Company encountered with the Sergeant Jasper over the past three years,” said John Darby.

In response, City of Charleston spokesman Jack O’Toole released the following statement:

The City is very pleased with the judge’s ruling as it pertains to the constitutionality of the BAR.  That the ordinance has served this community well over the last 80-plus years goes without saying. Historic preservation and BAR oversight have been critical to the City’s success in being a coveted place to live and work and visit.

The Judge’s ruling regarding the application of the ordinance to the Sgt. Jasper is disappointing.  It is  being reviewed and a recommendation regarding it will be coming forward very soon.


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