Inn quieter? 2 neighbors claim it isn't But others testify for current owners PASADENA

February 19, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

The loudmouthed ruffians who once frequented the Magothy Inn are long gone, say neighbors who have rallied to the defense of their local pub.

Once known as Margaret's, the Magothy Beach tavern has improved "1,000 percent" since a former Anne Arundel police officer and his business partner took over in 1988, said Mark Purdy, who lives across from the Center Street bar.

"The clientele is much better than it used to be," said Mr. Purdy, adding that he even takes his 5-year-old daughter there for pizza on weekend afternoons.

A half-dozen residents spoke in support of the bar's owners, Harry Paesch, a retired K-9 officer, and partner Darlene C. Fratantuono, at a county Board of Appeals hearing Wednesday.

Mr. Paesch and Ms. Fratantuono want the board to remove restrictions imposed on their business by a zoning hearing officer last fall. Hearing Officer Robert Wilcox granted the partners permission in November to build a 647-square-foot storage room at the back of the tavern.

But, in response to complaints from two sisters who own houses on each side of the tavern, he also ordered Mr. Paesch to install a 6-foot privacy fence and scale back the hours of operation to reduce the noise generated in the bar and its parking lot.

Although the tavern -- a 45-year-old fixture in the neighborhood -- is in a residential zone, the county ruled it a legal, nonconforming use in 1980. Special zoning exceptions, or approvals, are needed to build additions onto or otherwise expand nonconforming uses.

Anthony F. Christhilf, an attorney for Mr. Paesch, said Wednesday that the hearing officer overstepped his authority because the storage room would not affect the number of customers the tavern attracts or the amount of noise it generates. The restrictions, he argued, were "inappropriate and illegal."

Matabel Hammond and her sister, Regina Keller, who own houses on each side of the tavern, pleaded with the appeals board to keep the restrictions in place. The restrictions have provided them with the first relief they've had since the tavern moved next door in the late 1940s, they said.

Mrs. Hammond said she and her late husband bought their house in 1945. A few years later, "they snuck the tavern in" while they were on vacation in California, she said.

Disorderly patrons, loud music and traffic have been a problem ever since, she said. As recently as last summer, she said, she had to call police because of the loud music.

Mr. Paesch said he has a weekly Karaoke night but has sealed a window facing Ms. Hammond's house and hung additional insulation in an effort to sound-proof the building. He said he has never received a complaint from the police.

"It's not soundproof," Mrs. Hammond said. "It's still just an old frame house. You can hear them talking inside if they talk loud. You can hear them in the yard when they get intoxicated."

"I don't want the noise anymore."

Other neighbors rebutted Ms. Hammond's testimony. The taveronce had a very poor reputation, but it has become so tame under Mr. Paesch's direction that the Magothy Beach community association holds its monthly meetings there, said association president Scott Dower, who lives two blocks away.

Ms. Keller asked the board to require the 6-foot privacy fence, which would run through a disputed vacant lot between her home and the bar.

Board members are to inspect the tavern this weekend and issue a decision within 60 days.

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