You’ve heard the buzz about it for weeks, now tonight is your chance to have your say on the proposed midnight bar closing ordinance that Charleston City Council members overwhelmingly supported in May.

At 5:30 p.m. today at the Charleston Museum (360 Meeting St.), Charleston city officials, including Mayor Joe Riley and planning director Tim Keane, will hold a public input session to hear from Charleston residents about the Late Night Bar and Restaurant ordinance first proposed (and approved 12-1) on May 27. The measure initially sought to close all new bars and restaurants along Market, Meeting, and King Streets at midnight, but also started the clock on a series of changes by city officials to rein in rapid tourism-related congestion and an influx in downtown crime, particularly in popular nightlife areas.

The issue was the focus our June 11 cover story by Chris Haire, “Mayor Riley’s plan to put Charleston nightlife to sleep “.

In a Twitter response to reporter Paul Bowers’ post earlier this week, Keane said that the city will further discuss reasons why they’ve proposed the restrictions at this time, but that the problem is not just crime-related.

In a statement released last month, the S.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association came out against the proposal, saying the new law would have a “chilling effect” on local tourism dollars.

“If passed, this ordinance would not only have a negative economic impact on owners and employees at bars, restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and other establishments that sell alcohol, it would also decrease the amount of state and local sales taxes that would otherwise be collected, potentially passing any offset for that decrease in collections along to the taxpayers in the City of Charleston.”

Plan to arrive at the meeting tonight early, the auditorium at the Charleston Museum is a large space, but will likely fill up.

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