Orangeburg, SC (WLTX) – Since 2015, the owners of the Edisto River Creamery & Kitchen have been trying to remove the Confederate Flag and monument that sits right next to their property.
They took their concerns to the Orangeburg Zoning Board of Appeals.
"The city of Orangeburg does not regulate the location of flags or the display of flags their own by zoning in any zoning district or regulation,” says David Epting, zoning administrator.
Epting made the decision on June 15, 2017 to agree with the city’s zoning ordinance.
The 124 feet of private property where a Confederate flag and monument stand, is in a business zone.
Attorney Justin Bamberg, who spoke for the owners of the ice cream shop, believes the flag and monument don't live up to the zoning in that area.
“This property is not, nor has it been used ever for general business or commercial purposes,” says Bamberg.
“It would behoove the leadership of this group to not overturn a well-founded decision,” says Lauren Martel, representing the Heritage Action. The Rivers Bridge Camp 842 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans own the property.
After a 30-minute executive session, the appeals board stood by the original decision, to not regulate what is flown there. That means the confederate flag can continue to fly.
"I think the correct decision was made by the appeals board,” says Leland Summers, State Commander for the South Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “It's a matter of zoning, but also a matter of first amendment rights.”
"If you live in a residential area and you have a house, but you are using it as a business, you are violating zoning,” says Bamberg. “This particular instance is no different."
Shop owner Tommy Daras says the flag continues to hurt his business, including on social media.
"It's really hard to eat the comments on there, because people who comment have never even been in there."
As for what's next, the owners of the shop could appeal the decision again and take their argument to circuit court.