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Councilmania

Keeping tabs on the City Council's activities so you don't have to

Posted 11/4/2009

On the agenda, Oct. 26

Bill 08-0163 Live Entertainment and dancing--zoning--conditional uses. Creates new zoning rules for restaurants and bars wanting to host live bands or performances.

The Read: This bill, tabled since July, was not listed on the agenda. Councilman James Kraft (D-1st District) reintroduced it for final passage as the council took up its "third reader" bills. The bill alters the zoning code to allow restaurants and bars in B-2 zoning districts to employ live entertainers if they get permission for a "conditional use" from the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals. In B-1 districts only restaurants (not bars) would be allowed this privilege.

The bill, first introduced in July 2008, was gutted, amended, and tabled because of neighborhood opposition, and finally paired with two companion bills meant to allow neighbors of too-loud or disruptive establishments to get them shut down. One of those bills, 09-0373, allows the Health Department to close establishments that amass "multiple environmental or civil citations." The other 09-0387, allows so-called "conditional use" zoning to be revoked if the building's owner fails to comply with the conditions. Both of these bills passed unanimously. The live-entertainment bill passed on a voice vote of 10-4, with Councilman Nicholas D'Adamo (D-2nd District) not voting because he was late for the meeting. Kraft himself voted against the bill he had just reintroduced for the vote, as did Helen Holton (D-8th District), Mary Pat Clarke (D-14th District), and Bill Henry (D-4th District). Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who introduced the bill and shepherded it through a long process of hearings and amendments, thanked "those supporting the bill, and those opposed, for their hard work."

Bill 09-0414 Rezoning--A portion of 6130 O'Donnell Street. This would change the zoning of the eastern third of the Oheb Shalom cemetery to R-6, allowing for residential development.

The Read: A look at the map and an aerial photo shows gravestones and a lawn on the part to be designated R-6. The cemetery abuts the St. Martha and Mount Carmel cemeteries just south of the I-95 corridor and west of Dundalk Avenue.

Bill 09-0416--Environmental and Civil Citations--Notice Requirements. This would repeal the provision in the law that allows Environmental Control Board citations to be issued without prior notice.

The Read: The Environmental Control Board, among its other duties, trains the city inspectors who issue what we commonly call "trash tickets," and serves as a sort of court to handle those cases. It also handles zoning and building violations. Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector (D-5th District) says her bill is narrowly focused on zoning- and building-violation cases that otherwise require a warning--or did before the board was established in 1998. "My bill is to go back to that--a warning needs to be issued for zoning violations and construction," she says. "My experience was for certain areas of the city, people had no idea they could get a violation without a warning." You can still get trash tickets without warning, although the city has put a stop to them for six months or so to give people a chance to get used to the "One Plus One" trash and recycling system.

Resolution 09-0168R Investigative Hearing--The Jury Service Selection Process in Baltimore City. Asks the court bosses to explain the city's jury selection system to the City Council.

The Read: Councilwoman Belinda Conaway (D-7th District) introduced the bill with a Baltimore truism: "This seems to be something that touches almost every one of us," she began. "Either you're called every year, or you're never called, and there doesn't seem to be much in between." According to the bill, which is based in part on a report commissioned by her father, Circuit Court Clerk Frank Conaway Sr., about 60 percent of Baltimoreans summoned for jury duty fail to show up. "Based in part on a preliminary examination of the jurors list," the bill says, "the Clerk of Courts has concluded that serious flaws exist in the database used to select City residents for jury duty."

The Next city Council Meeting is scheduled for Nov. 16

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