Advocacy For Charleston

The Preservation Society of Charleston is dedicated to recognizing, protecting, and advocating for the Lowcountry’s historic places. One of the most important aspects of our work is participating in public meetings where decisions are made that affect not only Charleston’s historic districts, but also how the built environment of the city at large takes shape and functions. A few of the regular public meetings we attend are the Board of Architectural Review (both Large and Small), the Board of Zoning Appeals, Planning Commission, and City Council. We review proposals for alterations, additions, and proposed demolitions to historic properties in historic districts as well as proposed new construction in the area. Preservation Society staff also meet with property owners, architects, developers, and neighborhood association leaders to discuss proposed projects as well as offer technical advice. We represent the interests of our membership and friends who believe that some things are worth saving.

City Council

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Charleston’s City Council is the elected governing body for the city. It consists of twelve council members from across the city, in addition to the mayor. City Council creates and amends city laws in the Zoning Ordinance and Code of Ordinances, ratifies new city plans and plan amendments, and gives final hearing to recommendations from the Planning Commission on matters pertaining to, among other things, revising city zoning districts and regulating subdivisions and the development of land.

City Council meeting videos can be viewed here

Planning Commission

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Has the power and duty to prepare and recommend to City Council plans and programs to, among other things, revise city zoning districts, regulate subdivisions and the development of land, and review and comment on the compatibility of any new street, park, open space or structure with the City’s comprehensive plan.

Board of Architectural Review

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In 2016, the BAR was split into two boards – the BAR-Large and BAR-Small. The BAR-Large typically handles requests for buildings greater than 10,000 square feet, and the BAR-Small typically handles those less than 10,000 square feet. Both boards may review requests for exterior alterations, new construction, and demolition, but their powers vary depending on which district a property is located in. For specific information on the boards’ powers as it relates to the districts, read more here.

Board of Zoning Appeals - Zoning

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Hears and decides appeals for variances or special exceptions from the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Charleston that pertain to, among other things, use changes, parking requirements, lot occupancy and density. For guidelines and information on submitting applications contact the City of Charleston Zoning Department.