Bill would strip The Block

June 28, 1991|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Evening Sun Staff Frank D. Roylance contributed to this story.

In the latest effort to rid downtown Baltimore of The Block, the storied adult entertainment district, a bill was introduced today in the City Council to phase out the strip joints and peep shows over three years.

The legislation would amend the zoning code to prohibit adult entertainment such as nude dancing bars and peep shows from all business zones and from the M-1 light manufacturing zone.

Adult entertainment businesses would become conditional uses in M-2 and M-3 zones, but they would have to be at least 1,000 feet from any homes, churches, schools and libraries.

City Councilman Joseph T. "Jody" Landers 3rd, D-3rd, who introduced the bill, said The Block has become virtually encircled with new development and "has outlived its usefulness."

"The Block, with its crime problems, has become a deterrent to further growth in the Market Center area of downtown," Landers said.

Today was the council's last official meeting before adjourning for the summer. The legislation will not receive any further action from the council until it returns in September after the city elections.

Landers, who is not running for re-election to the council but is campaigning for city comptroller, admitted the timing of the introduction was somewhat political.

"This way, the issue of The Block and downtown development will become an issue to be debated during the city campaign," he said.

Landers said he met this week with a group interested in getting rid of The Block. This is the same group that commissioned two studies detailing the negative impact The Block is having on surrounding businesses.

Now barely two blocks long, The Block is less than half the size it was in its flashy heyday during World War II, but it still attracts customers from the city's new Inner Harbor convention trade.

City police have threatened numerours block businesses with closure as "public nuisances." Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has called The Block a "relic of the past" that "ought to be... eliminated in some orderly way."

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