Board bursts residents' bubble over bar's dome

November 10, 1999|By Kurt Streeter | Kurt Streeter,SUN STAFF

The fight over construction of a 62-foot-tall bubble over a popular Fells Point bar was settled last night when the city Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals cleared the way for the structure to go up this month.

By a 4-1 vote, the board gave owner Damian Bohager the go-ahead to build the "Bohdome" over Bohager's Parrot Island nightclub at Eden and Aliceanna streets.

The vote further divided a neighborhood split over the issue.

Bohager said he was "ecstatic" about the board's action. "I got what I thought we were allowed to do," he said.

While he has acknowledged that the 26,000-square-foot dome will be "tacky," he argued that it would help business in Fells Point because the dome will attract more people to the area.

Some Fells Point residents and business owners, who opposed the dome, left the meeting downcast. "We're going to have to live with this thing literally looming over us now," said Jennifer K. Etheridge. "That's not a good feeling."

During the two-hour zoning board meeting, opponents argued two points: that the dome will attract hordes of rowdy college-age drinkers to Fells Point, and that the nearly all-white structure will be one of the ugliest buildings in Baltimore.

"It's a monstrosity," argued Fells Point resident Kay Hogan, summing up the feeling expressed over and over by residents. "It's going to impact everybody. How are people going to feel when they realize they can see this thing from all over the harbor?"

The ruling hinged mainly on the location of the dome -- which would be inside an area zoned for industrial use. If Bohager's sat a block away, in the tightly controlled historic preservation district, the board would not likely have approved the dome, a temporary structure that will be set up during winter months.

But the industrial location, a block east of the Sylvan Learning Systems headquarters, tied the zoning board's hands, said its president, Benjamin Neal. He said the board's decision was based on whether the structure, "by its very nature," had an adverse effect on the neighborhood.

In May, Bohager purchased Parrot Island, the outdoor bar owned by his closest competitor. The next month, he decided to construct the dome instead of a planned concrete building.

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