Cleveland's Board of Zoning Appeals ruled unanimously that the Harp, the Irish pub on Detroit Ave. at W. 44th Street, can continue playing live music.
The Harp's owner, Karen O'Malley, successfully demonstrated to the BZA that without live music, her business would experience "unnecessary hardship." She presented her earnings on nights with live music vs. nights without live music to prove the point.
And if that wasn't enough, an army of community supporters showed up to signal their support for The Harp as well, calling it "the heart and soul" of Cleveland's Irish community.
Indeed, community support has been strong ever since the zoning issue first appeared before the BZA back in June, 2012. (And the vocal support has redoubled in recent months, particularly on social media, as complaints related to the permitting of Ohio City businesses have picked up considerable steam).
In May, 2014, the eighth district court of appeals remanded the case back to the BZA to determine whether not granting the variance would cause The Harp unnecessary hardship. The BZA ruled that it would.
So the Harp now gets an expanded use permit, moving from a "bar/restaurant" to a "bar/restaurant with live entertainment, including outdoor entertainment." The variance was required because The Harp is located within 500 feet of a residential zone, and one resident, Julie Kurtock, initially complained about noise.
Kurtock gave no testimony today, but Cleveland.com reported that her lawyer, Alan Rapaport, argued the legal (as opposed to emotional) angle. The Harp really has to show that the location was unsuitable for use as a bar without live entertainment, he said.
"No matter how good an operation fares," Rapaport said, "no matter how popular it is, no matter how people think it's a great operation, no matter how many people object to it, illegal is illegal."