Strip clubs

March 05, 1998

BILLS BEFORE the General Assembly that would give Baltimore's liquor board authority to regulate adult nightclubs should be approved during the current 90-day session.

The city Department of Housing and Community Development has had a spotty record enforcing zoning ordinances designed to penalize clubs where crimes have occurred. Sometimes the clubs were shuttered, but often police complain that arrests didn't lead to sanctions against nightspots frequented by prostitutes and drug dealers.

That's particularly galling, because housing department headquarters are only footsteps away from clubs on The Block that are the most egregious offenders.

The city has decided adult entertainment can coexist with business offices on Baltimore Street and family tourist attractions nearby. But that's only if the adult clubs are strictly regulated. Giving the liquor board power to shut these clubs if crimes occur there might restore confidence in that regulatory body.

One of the adult-entertainment bills would allow nearby residents to request a public hearing if a nightclub applies for an adult-entertainment license. If more than half the neighbors oppose that license, it could be denied. This certainly sounds reasonable, given that the people who live near these clubs will be affected by the type of clientele they might draw.

Pub Date: 3/05/98

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