Cain introduces bill to prohibit new concert halls in neighborhoods


Baltimore City Councilman John L. Cain lost the battle with a Fells Point rock hall last week, but has fired a new volley in the PTC zoning war: a bill to ban new concert halls from city neighborhoods.

Cain, a 1st District Democrat, introduced a bill this week prohibiting such concert halls from moving into industrial neighborhoods.

Cain's bill was introduced one week after the city Board of Municipal Zoning Appeals voted 5-0 to allow Damian Bohager, operator of Bohager's Bar and Grill at 515 S. Eden St. in Fells Point, to keep his concert stage despite complaints from neighbors. Barring Bohager's and other such establishments would hurt business in the city, board members said.

Although Cain's bill would have no effect on existing establishments such as Bohager's, it would prohibit new clubs.

"The neighborhoods are not really industrial anymore and the zoning hasn't changed," Cain said after introducing the bill at a council meeting Monday night. "Many of these places people don't want in their areas."

Cain opposed Bohager's zoning appeal, but might not have council support to get a ban approved.

Council President Lawrence A. Bell III said the city is working to establish a proper balance between night life business and neighborhood needs. Last year, the council started a Night Life Task Force to explore the issue.

Bell is a proponent of relaxing city night life laws, including the 2 a.m. curfew, to help businesses increase profits and promote tourism.

"I have an open mind about this," Bell said of Cain's bill. "But we need night life in the city, we need tourism."

Dave Geller, a concert promoter who books shows for Bohager's, said Cain's bill would cripple future night life business. Bohager's employs 80 workers and pays about $500,000 in taxes each year.

Geller said he doesn't believe Cain's bill will gain the necessary support from city leaders.

"People in charge of these decisions realize there needs to be some type of area for these activities," Geller said. "Especially in industrial areas that are not going to return to their former uses."

Cain's bill was forwarded to the council's land use committee for review.

Pub Date: 3/12/98

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