Live music is now allowed in Music City, Maryland, as Catonsville is dubbed, as well as Arbutus, and businesses won’t have to pay extra permitting fees for it.
Amendments to Baltimore County’s zoning regulations, proposed by County Councilman Tom Quirk, passed unanimously at the council meeting Monday night. County zoning previously barred such performances in those areas.
Effective Oct. 21, businesses in the Arbutus and Catonsville commercial revitalization districts can host live performances after obtaining a use permit from the director of the Baltimore County Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections.
Amendments made to the bill at the County Council’s work session Oct. 2 “essentially make the bill much more streamlined,” said Quirk, an Oella Democrat, at the meeting.
Those changes removed a distinction between indoor and outdoor live music and exempted groups that hold seasonal outdoor events like Frederick Road Fridays “in which a gathering permit or other applicable permits” must be obtained, Quirk said.
Businesses already authorized to host live music, such as nightclubs, also won’t be subject to the new permitting process, according to the bill’s fiscal note.
Under the county’s current zoning law, live music is only allowed in areas zoned as business major, which doesn’t include businesses along Frederick Road in Catonsville and some breweries.
“These amendments, as far as I’m aware, have addressed all the legitimate concerns,” he said.
The changes were spurred after musicians and others took issue with the initial bill draft on social media, fearing the permit requirements and fee would effectively prohibit live entertainment in Arbutus and Catonsville.
The final bill was not made available publicly as of Tuesday afternoon.
Live bands already perform at Catonsville establishments, and the bill will bring current practices aboveboard. At a work session last week, Quirk said the permit opens the door for more live entertainment in his district, since businesses won’t be worried about potential liability.
Those that had “legitimate concerns” with the bill “actually now support it,” Quirk said.
With the permit fee removed from the legislation, “it’s good for everybody," said Bettina Tebo, president of the Greater Arbutus Business Association.
"We’ll see how well it’s gonna work” among business owners, musicians and the broader community before the council explores adding it in other areas of the county, she said.
“You gotta start somewhere, might as well be Arbutus and Catonsville,” Tebo added.
“Let the dancing begin,” County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, whose district is in eastern Baltimore County, said at the Monday council meeting.