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Local Government 101: Understanding The City of Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review

Use this as a tool to learn about what the BAR-S + BAR-L do and how you can get involved.

charleston skyline

The Board of Architectural Review is made up of two sections: the BAR-Large + the BAR-Small.

Photo via @charlestonspired

Welcome back to CHS GOV 101, where we break down different aspects of our local government. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the city’s Board of Architectural Review (BAR), which is listed under The City of Charleston’s planning, preservation, and sustainability branch, along with the Design Review Board.

The BAR is made of two sections: BAR-Large (BAR-L), which tackles large projects like Courier Square Phase II, Building I, and BAR-Small (BAR-S) for smaller projects like remodeling the front porch of a church.

Within the historic districts, the BAR reviews the following:

  • All new construction
  • Alterations and renovations visible from public roads
  • Demolitions of structures 50 years or older south of Mount Pleasant Street
  • All demolitions within the Old and Historic Districts
  • All structures included on the Landmark Overlay Properties list

The board’s purpose is to preserve buildings and neighborhoods of historical or architectural significance that enhance our city’s unique character.
In reviewing proposed changes to historic properties and new structures, the BAR uses the principles established by the Charleston Standards as a guide.

Here are some ways you can get involved in the process.

Attend a meeting | BAR-L meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month + BAR-S meets on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month. Both groups meet in the Public Meeting Room on the first floor at 2 George St. If you can’t make it in person, you can join the live stream or watch it later on the city’s YouTube channel.

Get prepared | Review what’s going to be discussed; the outline for each meeting is posted in the Agenda Center beforehand.

Speak up | Attend the meeting in person to speak for comments to be fully heard. Written comments must be submitted or delivered to 2 George St., Ste. 3100, before the stated deadline. Written comments will be shared with board members, acknowledged in the record, and summarized.

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