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The Dripby Danielle Sweeney3:23 pmJun 9, 20150

Mayor says she needs more details about zoning decision that troubled association

Patterson Park residents ask for accountability at BMZA; Rawlings-Blake says she needs more specifics

Above: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake speaks to Patterson Park residents last night.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake continued her post-riot tour of Baltimore neighborhoods, with her latest stop at a Patterson Park Neighborhood Association meeting last night.

Residents told her they were unhappy with the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals (BMZA), which several said doesn’t pay attention to residents’ concerns and lacks accountability and consistency.

They cited, one example, the board’s approval last week of the conditional use of garages for car repairs that both the association and Councilman James B. Kraft strongly opposed.

Pat Lundberg, a vice-president of the association, asked the mayor point blank, “Can we expect more accountability from the BMZA?”

“I hear you,” Rawlings-Blake replied, but said she needed “more specifics.”

“I need to get more information on the basis of those decisions,” she said, adding that the city has been working on revising its zoning code for a number of years and that changes were on the horizon with Transform Baltimore, now under review by the City Council.

Saying the BMZA’s decisions “might be true to code but not useful for the way communities work today,” she said she would try to arrange for a  board representative to come to a future association meeting and talk to the residents.

Residents allege that tenants of the small garages on Esther Place and Fayette Street work on cars in the public right of way, and property owner Daniel Smelkinson allows this to occur despite many complaints and citations.

Councilman James B. Kraft, who represents the district where the garages are, said last week the board’s approval of conditional use for the garages “would reward the owner for having operated his business in a harmful manner to his neighbors for years.”

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