Hill Center Neighbors Press for New Voluntary Agreement on Sale of Liquor

Hill Center Neighbors Press for New Voluntary Agreement on Sale of Liquor

by Larry Janezich

A group of near-by neighbors of the Hill Center (THC) met Saturday on one part of a three track plan to ameliorate their concerns about the part of THC’s business plan which has the potential for greatest impact on their quality of life – leasing out indoor and outdoor space for social functions.  The group is led by neighbors from the blocks immediately surrounding The Hill Center. 

The group gathered in Southeast Library Saturday morning to hammer out a new voluntary agreement designed to make THC function successfully in a way that would minimize the effects to the surrounding residential areas.  . 

It was the consensus of the group that they were not trying to block THC from getting a liquor license. The goal is to be constructive and offer solutions to what neighbors see as potential problems. 

Under the Alcohol Beverage Review Administrations (ABRA) guidelines, neighbors have standing to elicit changes to an establishment’s operations in the following areas:  hours of sales and service, occupancy limits, noise, public/pedestrian safety, litter/trash, parking, and communications with neighbors

On June 14, ANC6B voted 8-0 in favor of THC’s application for a liquor license with a voluntary agreement.  That agreement limits:

sale of alcohol and entertainment inside to 7:00am – 1:00am Sunday through Thursday, and from 7:00am – 2:00am Friday and Saturday; 

sale of alcohol in the summer garden from 7:00am – 9:00pm Sunday through Thursday, and 7:00am – 10:00pm on Friday and Saturday; 

entertainment in the summer garden from 7:00am – 8:00pm Sunday through Thursday, and 7:00am – 9:00pm on Friday and Saturday.

In addition, THC agreed to reduce the number of outside summer garden patrons to 300 for night time events and to limit amplification of sound outdoors to no later than 8:00pm Sunday – Thursday and 9:00pm Friday and Saturday.  Valet parking would be required for events involving more than 30 passenger vehicles. 

The nearby neighbors view this as inadequate, noting that neither ANC commissioners nor Hill Center staff live within four blocks of the Center and were unable to appreciate what the needs of the neighbors would be.  The group hopes to reach an agreement with the Hill Center prior to the ABRA hearing on the Hill Center’s license application scheduled for July 18.  Hill Center neighbors are being encouraged to attend the hearing. 

Final language of the new agreement was not available, but it appeared that the final document would be more comprehensive than the one negotiated by the ANC. 

The second of the three track approach is a protest letter which will be filed with ABRA by July 5.  The purpose of the filing is not to oppose the application for a liquor license, but to give the neighborhood group legal standing to negotiate a new voluntary agreement. 

The third track is to gather signatures from neighbors in the blocks surrounding the Hill Center on petitions as a means of informing the neighborhood of the conditions of the current voluntary agreement and as a measure of the concern of the nearby residents regarding the potential impact of Center activities on the neighborhood.  As many as twelve people are actively seeking signatures. 

Representatives of the Hill Center were scheduled to meet with neighbors Saturday afternoon in an effort to engage them and to listen to what their concerns are.   More on that to follow. 


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