by Larry Janezich
On Tuesday, July 5, a protest letter signed by 27 nearby neighbors of The Hill Center was filed with the Alcohol Beverage Review Administration (ABRA). Backing up the letter was a petition of support signed by some 150 neighbors who live around The Hill Center who will be affected by the Center’s business plan. That plan includes raising a major portion of the Center’s operating funds by renting out space for receptions and weddings. Well known Hill residents Jill Lawrence and Barbara Eck have been spearheading the protest effort and working to keep the community informed. The full text of the protest letter is on emmcablog in a separate posting below..
The protest letter outlines the concerns the neighbors have to the licensing stipulations written on the Hill Center’s posted liquor license application. (See emmcablog posting on June 1).
ANC6B lent its approval to the liquor license June 15, on an 8-0 vote after working out a voluntary agreement (VA). (See emmcablog posting on June 15) . The protesters feel this VA inadequate. The group is not working with the ANC now because they feel the Commission did not reach out to the neighbors prior to the ANC vote and because it endorsed the liquor license application with minor changes after hearing only objections to the license from the crowd of neighbors who spoke at the meeting.
Following the formal filing of the letter on Tuesday, protest group representatives contacted Old Naval Hospital Foundation President Nicky Cymrot and told her the protest had been filed to make possible the negation of a new VA that each side could live with. Group representatives said Cymrot pledged to see what the Hill Center’s Board of Directors wanted to do and would let the group know. As of posting time, no word had come from Cymrot. The protestors hope to reach an agreement and get a VA signed and registered with ABRA even before the ABRA’s “Roll Call hearing” on July 18th. If that is not accomplished, group leaders say that many more than the required five protesters will appear at the meeting to validate the protest.
In that case, the process for forging a new VA passes to the oversight of a mediator assigned by ABRA to work with both sides to craft an agreement. Negotiations could begin immediately after the meeting, or the sides may agree to meet at a later date and time. The two sides can agree to meet prior to a mediation to begin working on details, and the process continues for as long as it takes.
According to Barbara Eck, “ABRA often has multiple protests of a license that sometimes results in more than one VA with differing terms. They strongly encourage the groups to combine terms into one VA to facilitate enforcement. No applicant wants to be governed by more than one voluntary agreement.”
On Friday, the protest group met to consider what specifics the VA should cover. They identified the items in the Hill Center operation plan posted on the website that the group wants written into the VA. They also identified other items they want included in the agreement.