Nightlife task force created to plan growth, policy

July 27, 2000|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

City Council President Sheila Dixon announced yesterday the creation of a task force that will examine Baltimore nightlife and recommend a strategy for developing around-the-clock entertainment.

Dixon and Diane Hutchins, vice president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, will co-chair the 30-member task force, made up of state and local officials, bar owners and community and tourism leaders.

The councilwoman assembled the group because of a rapid increase in the number of nightclubs opening downtown and the growing movement to permit more after-hours clubs and later bar closing times in the city.

"We need to get some immediate answers, before we dance ourselves out of the city and onto the [Baltimore-Washington] Parkway and Interstate 95," Dixon said.

The task force, which will meet at least weekly over the next three months, will develop a plan for what types of nightlife should be developed in the city and where those establishments should be located, Dixon said.

It is unclear if the task force will recommend rezoning areas to allow the creation of entertainment districts or identify areas where such districts can be located.

The group will also develop a position on two legislative proposals that seek to ease restrictions on bar and nightclub closing times, Dixon said.

Councilwoman Stephanie Rawlings, a Northwest Baltimore Democrat who chaired a council nightlife task force four years ago, plans to introduce legislation in council that would ease zoning restrictions on after-hours clubs.

State Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV, a West Baltimore Democrat, plans to introduce legislation in Annapolis next year that would permit some downtown nightclubs to serve alcohol until 4 a.m.

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