[image-1] A circuit court judge has ruled that Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review overstepped its bounds by denying a redevelopment proposal for the Sgt. Jasper property last June.

Challenging not only the BAR’s decision, but also the legality of the BAR itself, the Beach Company filed an appeal in 2015 after a plan to replace the old Sgt. Jasper building with a new 13-story tower was denied. Following a series of failed mediation sessions, Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson’s decision affirms the legality of the BAR, but finds fault in its denial of the Beach Company’s application.

The ruling came as good news to Beach Company CEO and President John Darby, even though the debate over the future of the Sgt. Jasper site drags on.

“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,” said Darby in a statement released by the Beach Company. “It is reassuring that Judge Nicholson took such a big step toward protecting property rights in Charleston. The Beach Company intends to improve the Sgt. Jasper property with a quality project of which we can all be proud.”

According to City of Charleston spokesman Jack O’Toole, the city is pleased with the judge’s ruling regarding the constitutionality of the BAR, adding, “Historic preservation and BAR oversight have been critical to the city’s success in being a coveted place to live and work and visit.”

As far as whether or not the city will try to appeal Wednesday’s court decision, O’Toole said the ruling is being reviewed and a recommendation regarding it will be coming forward very soon.

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