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Circuit Riders: Legal Research Training for Non-Lawyers

Municipal Ordinances

Cities, towns, and counties in every state enact ordinances to address local issues such as building codes, zoning, the environment, noise, and other nuisances.

Local ordinances have the full force and effect of law as long as they are not preempted by or conflict with any higher law. For instance, in Aakjer v. City of Myrtle Beach, 388 S.C. 129, 694 S.E.2d 213 (2010), the South Carolina Supreme Court held that a City of Myrtle Beach ordinance requiring all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet was preempted by state law, which only requires  helmets for riders under age twenty-one.

Examples of ordinances enacted across South Carolina include the following:

Noise
Chapter 8, Article III of the Code of Ordinances for the City of Columbia governs noise. Sec. 8-67 deals with radios, phonographs, musical instruments, and other sound-amplifying devices. 

                    

Smoking
The City of Beaufort prohibits smoking in enclosed public places and in places of employment. Section 67-5005 of the Beaufort Code of Ordinances also prohibits smoking in certain outdoor areas.

        

Offenses Against Public Morals
Title XIII, Section 133.05 of the Folly Beach Code of Ordinances prohibits tattoo and body piercing businesses within its corporate limits as being against public morals.


                         

Locating Municipal Ordinances

Local ordinances are available in print at local government offices such as City Halls.

The Municipal Code Corporation and American Legal Publishing Corporation both maintain online libraries of searchable city and county ordinances by state. Most South Carolina cities use one of these two databases to publish their ordinances online.

For example, City Codes for Columbia, South Carolina are accessible through the City Council’s webpage, which sends you to www.municode.com, while the Folly Beach website directs citizens to American Legal Publishing at www.amlegal.com.

The cities and counties in South Carolina that do not use Municode or American Legal Publishing should provide access to their ordinances on their websites. The South Carolina Association of Counties provides a page with links to county websites, while the Municipal Association of South Carolina maintains a Municipal Directory with links to the website for each municipality. If the ordinances are not available through a city or county website, it may be possible to get a copy emailed to you.  The last resort when doing municipal ordinance research is a trip to the city or county clerk's office to view a physical copy of the ordinances.

Using Municode

Using American Legal