Dispute Over Irish Rock Vexes a Developing Neighborhood

The Boys From County Hell at The Harp (PHOTO: Jason Miller)
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by David C. Barnett

As area marching bands are running through their their St. Patrick's Day selections in preparation for the annual parade,  a popular Celtic pub is in a dispute over the performance of live music.  

Cleveland's "Boys From County Hell" are due to take the stage for a St.Paddy's Day concert at the Harp, on the city's west side --- but, we're not talking traditional jigs and reels.  Though the Harp features a variety of performers, from acoustic to electric,  "The Boys" emulate the style of Irish rockers, The Pogues.  Four years ago, when the Harp requested a zoning variance for the performance of live music, an area homeowner filed an objection, claiming that loud bands disrupt the neighborhood.  The issue is now heading to the Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals.  

Local councilman Joe Cimperman says he's gotten no other complaints about live music at the Harp, and praises the restaurant for turning around a sketchy intersection.

"Before the Harp was built," he recalls, "there was a notorious place on that corner called Tony's Auto Wash, where you would literally be able to pick-up a prostitute and/or drugs --- and, by the way, get your car washed.  The place was just a magnet for human misery."  

Because the dispute is going to the zoning board, neither party involved is commenting.  But, Bill Merriman who runs the local block club says he loves how the Harp cleaned up a once questionable property.  He says his community is trying to maintain the quality of life in a rapidly developing neighborhood.

"We have to recognize the diversity of the environment where you have, not only residential, but you also have social gathering going on.   And we have to accommodate one another.  I don't believe in a winner-takes-all scenario, where we're all residential to the exclusion of the people who want to celebrate the location.  And, I don't go with those who exploit a location to the detriment of residents, who also deserve some quiet in the night." 

The Board of Zoning Appeals hearing is scheduled for April 18th.

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