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Board of Architectural Review FAQs

What is the Board of Architectural Review (BAR)?

The Board of Architectural Review (BAR) is a quasi-judicial volunteer Board appointed by City Council. Quasi-judicial means they are a public administrative agency with powers and procedures resembling those of a court of law or judge, and which is obligated to objectively determine facts and draw conclusions from them so as to provide the basis of an official action. They are responsible for establishing architectural review districts, recommending standards within those districts, and then applying, enforcing, and interpreting those standards. For a more complete overview of the BAR you can peruse their by-laws by clicking here.

The role of the BAR is to review proposed projects within the boundaries of an Architectural Overlay District. There are five Architectural Overlay Districts in Clemson. To view a map of Clemson’s Architectural Overlay Districts and their standards, click here. Each District has a specific set of standards which apply to that District. The purpose of the BAR is to apply those standards to any proposed project within an Overlay District.

What can the BAR do?

The BAR has the authority to do the following:

  • Establish an Architectural Overlay District
  • Make recommendations to the Planning Commission for specific standards within an Architectural Overlay District
  • Grant a variance from the review standards if certain conditions are met
  • Review applications for permits for projects within an Architectural Overlay District including:

1.All new buildings and structures, excluding single-family residential development and exterior signs for existing commercial buildings.

2.All changes of use from residential to nonresidential.

3.Any alteration or addition that increases the total impervious site area or gross floor area of a building.

4.Any exterior improvement of a structure which is valued over 50 percent of the assessed value as determined by the Pickens County Assessor of the building as deemed by the value of the building permit or by determination of the Zoning and Codes Administrator.

5.All exterior signs for new developments.

6.All exterior signs and exterior alterations on buildings and sites in C districts.

What can't the BAR do?

The BAR has limited authority which is primarily focused on the aesthetics of a project. The BAR cannot do the following:

  • Determine the use of a building
  • Deny a project based on perceived or real traffic impact or storm water impact
  • Deny a project for reasons allowed by code
  • Supersede more restrictive standards which exist elsewhere in City codes
  • Supersede any state or federal laws

How can I find out more about the BAR?

The Board of Architectural Review (BAR) exists as a result of Chapter 29 Section 6-29-870 of S. C. State Law which establishes guidelines on membership, officers, meetings, records and appeals regarding how any BAR is organized and governed in our state. The law further states that the BAR has “those powers involving the structures and neighborhoods as may be determined by the zoning ordinance.” Essentially, this grants the City the ability to determine how their BAR will operate. 

The Law goes on to state in Section 6-29-960 “When the regulations made under authority of this chapter require a greater width or size of yards, courts, or other open spaces, or require a lower height of building or smaller number of stories, or require a greater percentage of lot to be left unoccupied, or impose other more restrictive standards than are required in or under another statute, or local ordinance or regulation, the regulations made under authority of this chapter govern. When the provisions of another statute require more restrictive standards than are required by the regulations made under authority of this chapter, the provisions of that statute govern.”

Clemson’s ordinance has many specific requirements. However, unless the AR District guidelines specifically restrict or allow something specifically, then the Zoning District guidelines apply.

So, state law allows a city to form a BAR and offers a few guidelines. The specifics are left up to each municipality.

Clemson chose to create a BAR which is atypical for a town our size with no historic districts. The overwhelming majority of towns in South Carolina do NOT have a BAR.

What is the process by which a project is reviewed by the BAR?

Any project with an Architectural Overlay District requires approval from the BAR in order to proceed. The BAR meets on the first Tuesday of each month when a request for a review has been submitted. The deadline for a review by the BAR is 21 days prior to the meeting. All BAR meetings are advertised in the local paper, posted on the City website, and physically posted at the information kiosks at City Hall. To download an applications for BAR review please click the appropriate link below.

Meeting Schedule and Application Deadlines - 2017
Board of Architectural Review Agenda Application
Board of Architectural Review Variance Application
Board of Architectural Review Appeal Application

For a schedule of BAR meetings click here.

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