Little Italy, Milan should reconcile their differences

April 12, 2010

As a Little Italy neighbor and Harbor East property owner, I'm saddened a "food fight" has begun in my community ("Little Italy group asks board to revoke Milan liquor license," April 12). I've watched the Milan renovation for months and am delighted with the outcome. Recently I attended a networking event and was astounded by the décor and ambiance.

However, this venue could abuse the neighborhood by attracting rowdy crowds, playing loud music and creating traffic problems. Last year the Baltimore City Council passed a zoning bill extending live entertainment permits into areas previously off limits. While I applaud live performances in residential neighborhoods, the potential for nuisance and noise is serious.

Milan, currently zoned to take advantage of this statute, could open a disco or who knows what. Residential neighborhoods have fought these issues for years. The situation in Mount Vernon with Suite Ultralounge illustrates the difficulty we have curtailing entertainment nuisances. It took the area over a year to shut the place down, in spite of documented public hazards and lawlessness. Hopefully, the Milan vs. Little Italy "food fight" will never escalate that far.

It's sad that a beautiful venue like Milan stepped off on the wrong foot. I was distressed by owner Curlee Smittie's remark: "People who live in Harbor East don't come to Little Italy unless they come to Milan." I happen to live in Harbor East and am constantly in Little Italy. There are great restaurants, a terrific school where I recently took the wine making class and numerous events sponsored by St. Leo's church. During the summer, Da Mimmo's parking lot is packed with visitors who enjoy the outdoor movies. Shame on Mr. Smittie for his thoughtless comment!

As a Harbor East resident and property owner, I'm saddened Milan has made enemies in so a short time. Milan is a beautiful restaurant in a terrific Baltimore community. The issues have to be resolved. Let the negotiations begin!

Rosalind Nester Ellis, Baltimore

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