Odell's doors to stay open for now, city court rules Popular nightclub faces restrictions

July 01, 1992|By Ann LoLordo | Ann LoLordo,Staff Writer

The popular Odell's nightclub on North Avenue can remain open -- at least temporarily -- under an agreement reached this week with the city of Baltimore.

The city had gone to court to shut down the club because of a recent spate of crimes near the nightspot as well as neighborhood complaints about patrons who crowd the streets outside. City officials said the club was operating without a permit.

Under the agreement reached Monday, the club still must get zoning board approval to operate as a dance hall in order to remain open permanently. In the interim, Odell's must close earlier, join other local merchants in hiring off-duty police to patrol the area and limit its patrons to club members only.

Odell's, one of the most popular black nightclubs in the city, has been in operation since the 1970s. It bills itself as a private club, offering only punch and cookies to its patrons, many of whom are in their late teens and early 20s. The club, at 21 E. North Avenue, is open only on weekend nights.

The conditions under which Odell's can remain open were outlined in a court order signed by Baltimore Circuit Judge Ellen L. Hollander. As part of the order, the club agreed to close its doors at 3 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and 2 a.m. on Mondays. It previously remained open as late as 4 a.m.

Edward R. Smith, a lawyer for Odell's, said the club has addressed the city's concerns and believes it will be successful in its bid to obtain the proper zoning permit.

"My client wants to remain open, and the mayor himself is of the opinion that kids need some place to go," Mr. Smith said. "We're going to be sure that the people who frequent the club are dispersed and out of that community quickly."

The club's request for a conditional-use permit to operate as a dance hall has been pending since March. The Board of Municipal Zoning Appeals has not yet scheduled a hearing on the request.

In April 1991, after receiving complaints from community residents, the zoning board cited Odell's, claiming it was operating beyond its permitted use as a private club. At the time, the club only had permission to use one floor of its building.

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