BMZA Releases Decision on Crossbar Hearing

| April 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

Baltimore City Municipal Zoning and Appeals Board (BMZA) released its decision on three zoning variances for Crossbar der Biergarten, proposed for 12-18 E. Cross St., on Friday, April 4, 2014. This comes after the BMZA hearing on February 25, 2014 in which Crossbar was seeking three zoning variances: 1.) A rear yard setback for 16 and 18 E. Cross St., 2.) Waiver of a parking requirement of eight spots, 3.) An open-air courtyard for outdoor table service.

Taverns are a permitted use in Crossbar’s B-2-3 zoning district, but outdoor table service is an accessory needing a variance. The three variances were supported by a 3-2 BMZA board vote, but needed a 4-1 decision for approval. Therefore, the variances were denied.

After reviewing the board’s decision, David C. Tanner, executive director of the BMZA, issued the zoning board’s decision last Friday. The decision supported the denial of variances on the parking requirement and open air courtyard for outdoor table service, but determined that the rear yard variance was not required. From the report:

After listening to all the evidence presented during the hearing and reviewing the plans, the Board found that a rear yard variance is not needed. The Board found that the current structures, like many found on this section of Cross Street, extend to the rear yard line and the new structure will have the same rear yard line as the existing structure. Further, the applicant proffered that the existing walls of the structure extending to the lot line would remain. Existing noncomplying structures only need a variance if they seek to increase the degree of compliance. ZC 13-506. Since Appellant’s project does not increase the degree of noncompliance with respect to rear yard, the Board, upon consideration of the evidence submitted, review of the plans, plat map and pictures submitted, found that a rear yard variance is not required.

The rear yard setback gives Crossbar the footprint needed for the proposed project. With the open courtyard denied, the group behind Crossbar plans to install a glass roof above the beer garden. This would fully enclose the structure and therefore eliminate the variance needed for accessory outdoor table service.

To comply with zoning, Crossbar must also provide a parking plan for eight designated parking spots.

Plans for Crossbar were originally announced in April 2013. The proposed biergarten’s second attempt for an expansion of the liquor license from 12-14 E. Cross St. to 12-18 E. Cross St. was approved on February 20, 2014 by the Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City (BLLC). Crossbar reached a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the South Baltimore Neighborhood Association (SBNA) in February which included a maximum capacity of 155 and a 50/50 food/alcohol requirement.

The Federal Hill Neighborhood Association (FHNA) challenged the validity of Crossbar’s liquor license at the February BLLC hearing, but the license was deemed valid by the board. FHNA will be challenging this decision in circuit court.

After Friday’s BMZA decision was announced, Crossbar Tweeted: “The rear yard setback for the biergarten is approved by the BMZA! The push begins to get open in time for #Oktoberfest2014 #beifallsrufe.”


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