Bill aims for control over teen hangouts

Licensing fee proposed for clubs, skating rinks

March 18, 2002|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Council will consider tonight levying a $100 annual licensing fee on amusement halls and skating rinks.

The bill, sponsored by Towson Councilman Wayne M. Skinner, also would impose a $1,000 fine on any establishment that fails to prevent incidents ranging from excessive noise to vandalism.

The legislation is an outgrowth of the popularity of downtown Towson's Generation Xtremes, one of the area's largest teen dance clubs. Baltimore County police have added extra patrols at the club in the 400 block of York Road, which attracts as many as 600 people to its weekend dances.

Police also have been called to Skateland roller rink in the 8800 block of Orchard Tree Lane, where neighbors have complained about unruly crowds and vandalism after closing time.

The rink owners have responded by changing operating hours, installing metal detectors to scan for weapons and hiring off-duty police officers for security.

The bill is designed to ensure that such establishments are properly run, Skinner said.

"The purpose is to give some control over amusement halls and roller rinks," he said.

County Council Chairman John A. Olszewski Sr. said the bills aren't aimed at persecuting businesses. "What we are trying to do is to alleviate some of the problems," said Olszewski, of Dundalk. "But what we don't want to do is put people out of business."

J. Carroll Holzer, the attorney representing Generation Xtremes, said the club supports most of the legislation's provisions. But he wondered about the reach of the bill.

"The question becomes, how far off the premises are you trying to control?" Holzer said.

In other business, the council is scheduled to:

Consider a bill that would require wireless telecommunications towers to be set back at least 200 feet from a residential property or residential zone. In January, the council approved legislation to keep the cell phone towers out of historic and scenic areas.

Ask the county Planning Board and law department to study the problem of vacant properties in the county. The council wants the board to recommend a plan to deal with the increasing number of such properties.

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