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Date: Nov 25, 2019

A&E Designation is a Critical Piece of County’s Economic Development 

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today announced that Catonsville—“Music City, Maryland”—has been designated Baltimore County’s first Arts and Entertainment (A&E) District. The new district will include Catonsville’s business district along Frederick Road and the Lurman Woodland Theatre. 

“Catonsville’s downtown is a vibrant hub that draws residents and visitors alike, and this A&E designation ensures we will attract new artists and creative enterprises while ensuring our existing merchants continue to grow and thrive,” Olszewski said. “Baltimore County was proud to support the effort to obtain this designation, and I look forward to continuing our work with community leaders and stakeholders to maximize its impact.” 

Managed by the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency of Maryland Commerce, the A&E Districts offer tax-related incentives to help attract artists, arts organizations, and other creative enterprises. The designation of the Catonsville A&E District in an important piece of the county’s economic development strategy and will help to attract new creative businesses and drive additional tourism to the southwestern part of the county. The designation will become effective July 1, 2020 and last for 10 years. 

Investing in Communities

"This exciting designation highlights Catonsville's vibrant history as well as its bright future," said Governor Larry Hogan. "Our administration is proud to support the revitalization of historic and artistic communities across our state, and 'Music City, Maryland' is a shining success story for Baltimore County." 

“The A&E Districts program bridges a critical connection between the arts and economic development,” said Maryland Department of Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz. “With a critical mass of arts events, organizations, and businesses as well as independent artists, our network of districts across Maryland are helping to fuel Maryland’s economy and are central to our strong communities. We look forward to working closely with Baltimore County as we welcome the Catonsville district to the program.” 

Baltimore County is committed to growing its diverse economy by making strategic investments in communities. In his FY20 budget address, County Executive Johnny Olszewski identified efforts to secure the County’s first ever Arts and Entertainment (A&E) District as a priority. 

“I’m so proud that Catonsville’s thriving arts community will become Baltimore County’s first Arts and Entertainment District,” said County Councilman Tom Quirk. “Promoting our community’s unique character will help cultivate creativity and further leverage our amazing assets to support tourism across our County.” 


The Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development and the Department of Planning have been working in partnership with the Baltimore County Arts Guild to pursue the Catonsville A&E designation.  

“This designation is an exceptional opportunity for the Baltimore County Arts Guild to partner with Baltimore County government to bring an extraordinary development effort to our community of artists and businesses,” said Baltimore County Arts Guild President Marilyn Maitland. “There are many to thank for the years of hard work that have brought us to this day. County Executive Olszewski has been instrumental in this effort to achieve our designation. His commitment to the arts, and their ultimate benefit to the community is exceptional.” 

The community of musicians in the area have attracted businesses that construct, repair, and sell instruments and provide music lessons, helping to weave arts and entertainment threads throughout the fabric of the area. In addition to being supported by the local community, Catonsville’s successful main street attracts tourists from around the state and surrounding states to their specialty shops, arts enterprises, artist-run bakeries, restaurants that incorporate live entertainment, and community-organized events that feature a quaint, historic atmosphere.

Creative enterprises are the backbone of the Catonsville A&E District. A number of murals are displayed throughout the proposed District, and through County and State grant funding, one of the largest public murals will be featured at the Catonsville CUBE, which will overlook the thriving farmers’ market, Frederick Road Fridays, as well as other festivals and events.

Bill Protects Firearm Retail Establishment and Prevents Gun Burglaries

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Police Chief Melissa Hyatt, and other County officials today announced plans to introduce the Secure All Firearms Effectively (SAFE) Act, which would require firearm retail establishments in Baltimore County to install responsible security measures to protect their inventory from potential burglaries.

“We must do whatever we can to keep our communities safe, and that includes doing more to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals,” said County Executive Olszewski. “This bill is a straightforward solution to ensure that we keep stolen weapons off our streets and out of our communities.”

Firearm retail safety is an issue across Maryland and nationwide. Seven Baltimore County firearm retail establishments were burglarized 10 times in 2018 and 2019. In four of those incidents, burglars succeeded in stealing firearms, including one incident in which 51 weapons were stolen.

In June 2019, burglars attacked firearm retail establishments in Howard County and Montgomery County on successive nights, ramming each retailer with a car and stealing a total of 45 weapons. A suspect charged in those cases was also involved in one of Baltimore County’s attempted burglaries.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a total of 5,652 firearms were stolen nationwide in burglaries from dealers in 2018. Weapons stolen from these burglaries are often sold and used to commit additional crimes.

“This bill will require appropriate security measures for firearm retail establishments and gun shows in Baltimore County,” said Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt. “The goal of this licensing is to avoid more preventable incidents in which multiple weapons are stolen, and then end up in the hands of violent criminals.” 

Many firearm retail establishments do not secure firearms in safes, vaults, shatterproof cases, or take other anti-theft measures after normal business hours, leaving retailers vulnerable to burglary. While some retailers utilize limited security measures, such as window bars, implementation is often not comprehensive, consistent, or effective.

Maryland law authorizes local jurisdictions to regulate the purchase, sale, transfer, ownership, possession, and transportation of firearms within 100 yards of or in a park, church, school, public building, and other place of public assembly. "Place of public assembly” means a location used for a gathering of 50 or more persons for deliberation, worship, entertainment, eating, drinking, amusement, shopping, awaiting transportation or similar uses.

The bill announced today would create a new county license for firearm retail establishments and temporary gun shows that fall under the county’s regulatory authority. In order to obtain a license, establishments and gun shows would have to implement a Baltimore County Police Department-approved safety plan.

Under the plan, a temporary gun show must have a security plan approved by the Chief of Police that includes an alarm system, video surveillance and live security guard coverage when the show is closed and establishments must:

  • Be monitored at all times by an alarm system registered with the county and a video system.
  • Include the following physical security elements:
    • Bollards or another physical barrier to prevent vehicle intrusion into the building; and
    • Security gates or security screens over windows; and
    • Either security gates or security screens over doors; or a secure vestibule for doors.
  • Secure all firearms in a safe, secure room, in a secured cage, or behind security shutters when the business is closed.
    • As an alternative to this requirement, the Chief of Police may authorize the dealer to provide live security guard coverage.
  • The Chief of Police can approve another combination of measures.

The legislation was developed in consultation with law enforcement officials and Baltimore County firearm retail establishment owners, and is based on more stringent state safety requirements for medical cannabis facilities.

The bill will be introduced in the County Council session scheduled for Monday, December 16.

Revised October 16, 2020               
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