Community Issues - Special Laws

Bill 60-11, Restaurants and Taverns in BLR Zones

Sponsors: Almond, Oliver

Allows certain restaurant and tavern use outdoors in BLR if:

  • inside URDL
  • on Landmarks list
  • outdoor activities must end by midnight, except for outdoor dining and bar service (what does that leave as allowed?)
  • and outdoor activities allowed on adjacent DR if part of same parcel and not more than 15% of total parcel area

(It is unclear from the wording whether the outdoor uses on the adjacent DR portion must end by midnight, but it should be presumed to be intended to mean that.)

The BLR zoning exists to provide very limited uses in order to "ensure compatibility with surrounding residential neighborhoods", that is, to be more restrictive than BL, and requires specific hearings or decisions concerning any development to ensure compliance. So to simply pass a Bill like this is completely contrary to the spirit and intent of the BLR zone. For example, this Bill would appear to allow outdoor music (and other "accessory uses") until midnight even if adjacent to residences and it even allows such use to extend onto a "dedicated portion of the adjacent DR" if the parcel is split-zoned BLR and DR. The proper approach would have been to put the "adjacent DR" area into the next CZMP to change it to BLR or to change the whole thing to BL to eliminate the specific restrictions of BLR.

After an extensive search of the 2nd and 4th Districts, the only property that I can find that meets this criteria is the Valley Inn at 10501 Falls Rd (in the 2nd). TVI Properties bought this property August 24, 2011. (Note again, that any Bill that applies to a single property is un-constitutional.) It is unknown what other properties others will attempt to apply these relaxed restrictions to in the future.)

This property has a complex history of zoning hearings and others related to setbacks, parking, hours of operation, an addition, etc., that have been necessary to allow the restaurant operation, especially to allow it to reopen after several years being closed. Following:

  • October 10, 2000, Restrictive covenant with Valleys Planning Council
  • CZMP 2000, Issue 4-034 changed 0.2a of DR1 to BLR
  • 2004-0006-SPH (to allow commercial parking in DR1, and service vehicles to use the parking lot)
  • zoning map correction in 2011 (held May 26, 2011, order issued 3 June - never heard of the Board of Appeals working so fast!).
  • 2011-0267-SPHA (to change hours of operation and other restrictions - granted 21 July 2011)
  • Bill passed October 3, 2011; effective October 14 (what's the rush)
  • January 12, 2012, the Landmarks Commission approved the work to put on a new addition.
  • 2012-0175-A (for 180 parking spaces in lieu of required 312) - granted March 7, 2012

The person who was the Zoning Commissioner for the 2004 case was then the owner's lawyer for the later actions. How convenient!

Balt Sun article.

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Updated 21 Mar 2017 by MAP