Participate in Decision Making

Your informed participation is the key to an effective and transparent public process. Make a difference in your community by being present at public meetings and voicing your concerns.

Public Meeting Calendar

Board of Architectural Review - Large | 2 George Street, 1st Floor
Dec 13, 2017   4:30 pm
Board of Architectural Review - Small | 2 George Street, 1st Floor
Dec 14, 2017   4:30 pm
Board of Zoning Appeals - Zoning | 2 George Street - 1st floor meeting room
Dec 19, 2017   5:15 pm

City Agendas

Dec 13, 2017 BAR-L Agenda
Dec 13, 2017 BAR-L Image Overview
Dec 13, 2017 BAR-L Agenda Image
Dec 14, 2017 BAR-S Agenda
Dec 14, 2017 BAR-S Image Overview
Dec 14, 2017 BAR-S Image Overview
Dec 19, 2017 Board of Zoning Appeals - Zoning Agenda
Agenda Archives

How to Participate

If you plan to attend a public meeting, bear in mind that each board and commission has slightly different rules and procedures regarding the public’s opportunity to comment. Start times and locations of meetings also vary. Here is what you need to know:

  • Board of Architectural Review Large (BAR-L) typically meets 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month @ Gaillard Center Public Meeting Room
  • Board of Architectural ReviewSmall (BAR-S) typically meets 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month @ Gaillard Center Public Meeting Room
  • Design Review Board (DRB) typically meets 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month @ Gaillard Center Public Meeting Room
  • Board of Zoning AppealsZoning (BZAZ) typically meets 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month @ Gaillard Center Public Meeting Room
  • Planning Commission (PC) typically meets 3rd Wednesday of the month @ Gaillard Center Public Meeting Room
  • City Council (Council) typically meets 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month @ City Hall, Council Chamber

BAR-L, BAR-S, and DRB

These boards consider matters of architecture, including the height, scale, mass, and architectural character of buildings – it is not the forum to address concerns about density, light, air, and noise impacts, or other issues pertaining to livability. Arrive on time so that you can be notified of any agenda items that have been withdrawn. The item you are there for may no longer be up for consideration.

  • The board chair will begin with an overview of the rules and procedures.
  • A city staff member, typically the City Architect, will then introduce the application.
  • The applicant will then give their presentation, followed by any questions from the board.
  • The board chair will subsequently open the floor to public comment. Individual members of the public are usually limited to around two minutes of speaking time.
  • After the public comment period, applicants may respond to comments. The City Architect will then give the City’s position on the matter.
  • Next is board discussion, and at this point you will no longer be able to weigh in.

BZAZ

This board hears appeals for variances and special exceptions from the requirements of the Charleston Zoning Ordinance, which pertain to, among other things, use changes, parking requirements, setbacks, and lot occupancy and density. Arrive on time so that you can be notified of any agenda items that have been withdrawn. The item you are there for may no longer be up for consideration.

  • The board chair will begin with an overview of the rules and procedures.
  • The City’s Zoning Administrator will then introduce the application and give the City’s position on the matter.
  • The board chair will then open the floor for public comment by asking whether anyone present is in opposition to the application – if no one present is in opposition and if the City is in support of the application, it is typical for the board to vote for approval.
  • However, if there is opposition present, the board chair will call for the applicant to make his or her presentation.
  • Following the presentation, the board chair will then open the floor for those who wish to speak in favor of the application. Next to speak are those who are in opposition.
  • Subsequently, the applicant may respond to the comments. At this point, you will no longer be able to weigh in.

Planning Commission

This commission 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. Arrive on time so that you can be notified of any agenda items that have been withdrawn. The item you are there for may no longer be up for consideration.

  • The chairperson will begin with an overview of the rules and procedures.
  • A city staff member, typically the Director of Planning, will present the application and give the City’s position as to recommending approval or denial.
  • The chairperson will then ask if the applicant is present or wishes to add anything to the City’s presentation.
  • The chairperson will next ask if there is any public comment. As with other boards and commissions, the length of time each individual may speak during the public comment period is usually capped at a couple of minutes or less, and this may change depending on the number of people wishing to speak. 

City Council

This is the elected governing body for the city. It consists of twelve council members from across the city, in addition to the mayor. 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. The Council Chamber usually fills up quickly, so arrive on time to grab a seat, and so that you can be notified of any agenda items that have been withdrawn. The item you are there for may no longer be up for consideration.

  • Council operates differently than PC or the BARs, for example. For any matter on the published agenda that is a “Public Hearing,” there will be an opportunity for public comment.
  • However, if you wish to speak about an agenda item that is not a Public Hearing, or about any other matter of concern to you, you may do so in the “Citizens Participation” portion of the agenda.
  •  In order to assure that you will have the opportunity to speak in the Citizens Participation period, you must sign your name on a sheet directly outside of the Council Chamber prior to the meeting.
  • As with other boards and commissions, the length of time each individual may speak during a Public Hearing is usually capped at a couple of minutes or less; however, if a large number of people wish to speak during Citizens Participation period, the time allotted may be less than a minute and sometimes even as little as thirty seconds.

Who do I contact?

If you have questions, or if you cannot attend a meeting, you can still submit comments about a particular issue by contacting the following:

BAR-L and BAR-S – Dennis Dowd or other BAR and DRB staff | 843.579.7566
BZAZ – Lee Batchelder or Pennye Ashby | 843.724.7177
PC – Christopher Morgan | 843.724.3774
Council – Vanessa Turner Maybank | 843.724.3729