Council passes bill to crimp after-hours clubs 2nd such measure is introduced BALTIMORE CITY


One bill aimed at curbing after-hours dance clubs in Baltimore has been passed by the City Council and another has been introduced.

On Monday, the council passed a bill to amend the urban renewal plan for the Charles/North Revitalization Area north of Pennsylvania Station. The bill requires clubs to get the approval of the zoning board -- rather than a zoning administrator -- to operate as restaurants or banquet halls with entertainment.

The bill would affect Odell's, the North Avenue nightspot that the city finally closed last summer after a protracted legal battle, as well as several other properties in the area, said council member Anthony J. Ambridge, D-2nd, who sponsored the bill.

Odell's was closed by court order after the zoning board ruled that it violated its permit as a private club and instead operated as an after-hours dance hall. The club has since applied for a new permit as a restaurant with dancing.

"This bill does not preclude that use; it requires community input," said Mr. Ambridge.

The other bill would provide penalties of up to $500 a day or a jail term of up to 30 days for anyone occupying the building without the proper permits.

The bill is sponsored by the three council members from the 5th District. It was drafted in response to Facade, a Northwest Baltimore nightspot that operated for months after its occupancy permit was revoked until the city obtained a court order earlier this month demanding that it be closed.

"Many buildings are operating without an occupancy permit. We are putting the public in tremendous danger," said Council member Rochelle "Rikki" Spector, D-5th.

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