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Dock of the Bay restaurant faces $5K fine for live music, karaoke

A Millers Island restaurant must remove from its premises a speaker system that amplifies live music and karaoke or face a $5,000 fine, a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge ordered Wednesday.

Dock of the Bay was found last month to be in contempt of a court order forbidding it from playing live music or karaoke, illegally morphing into a nightclub in violation of county zoning code.

But Judge Robert N. Dugan rejected a county request to include in Wednesday’s order a provision giving him power to shut down the restaurant if it commits any further violations.

“The court can’t overstep its authority and take action for another branch of government,” Dugan said.

John W. Nowicki, the restaurant’s lawyer, said the restaurant has not offered live music since August, and the speaker system is already down but needs to be dismantled.

Barring any further violations by the restaurant, the sanctions seemingly end a years-long fight between the restaurant and its neighbors. The contempt order came after the Court of Special Appeals affirmed county administrative rulings that Dock of the Bay meets six of eight criteria for nightclubs set out in commentary to the county building code.

Dugan, in finding the restaurant in contempt, also ruled that a Court of Appeals decision from May that overturned the county liquor board’s attempt to ban outdoor music had no impact on the zoning matter.