Tag Archives: Liquor Licenses

18th Amendment on PA Ave SE Will Become “Barrel”

The Future Site of "Barrel" - Bourbon, Beer, and Southern Fare

The Future Site of “Barrel” – Bourbon, Beer, and Southern Fare

18th Amendment Morphs into “Barrel”

by Larry Janezich

The 18th Amendment at 613 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, closed since last July after acquiring a new business partner, will be reborn as “Barrel” late this year or early next year.  Thursday night, a spokesman for the 18th Amendment representing the partnership applying for renewal of the liquor license for that location, told ANC6B’s Alcohol Beverage Control Committee chaired by Commissioner Sara Loveland that the new liquor venue would be “more upscale” than the previous occupant, with “better food” prepared by a chef from Charleston, South Carolina.  According to the spokesman, the new bar will serve 18 draft beers, and the interior is being redone to restore the brick and to bring in “classy lighting.”  The spokesman said, “It will be more similar to Beuchert’s than the 18th Amendment as you remember it.”  The new partner and driving force behind Barrel is Matt Weiss, the long-time owner of the Union Pub (formerly the Red River Grille) and Lounge 201.

As has been reported elsewhere, http://bit.ly/1amQZbv “Barrel” refers to “barrel-aged”, i.e. barrel-aged cocktails, infused bourbons, aged bourbons, etc.  Chef Garret Fleming, formerly of The Pig, appears to be the Charleston chef.  For a likely preview of the bills of fare, visit the dinner menu of The Pig here:  http://www.thepigdc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Dinner.pdf and “Bourbon Happy Hour menu” here:


or the drink menu here: http://www.thepigdc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/drinks.pdf

An interesting side note is the apparently continuing connection and involvement of Joe Englert, restaurant and entertainment developer of U Street, H Street, and Capitol Hill.  According to the spokesman for the group on Thursday night, Weiss and Englert are partners in ownership of Pour House on Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.  Englert is reported to be one of the partners in the 18th Amendment as well as Trusty’s.  He began a project to make H Street, NE, a bar and restaurant destination in 2006, after the city announced plans to pump money into the old Atlas Theater in hopes of kick starting the redevelopment of H Street.

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ANC6B Irked by ABRA’s Perceived Slights on Liquor Licensing

The Tune Inn

The Tune Inn

ANC6B Irked by ABRA’s Perceived Slights on Liquor Licensing

Tune Inn and Tortilla Coast Two Cases in Point

by Larry Janezich

In two more examples of city agencies giving short shrift to residents in favor of businesses – in this instance bars and restaurants – the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) has evidently come down on the side of the Tune Inn and Tortilla Coast, and against neighbors and ANC6B who were trying to press the popular neighborhood venues into signing Settlement Agreements.

In the case of the Tune Inn, the ANC has received complaints from nearby residents regarding late night cleanup operations noisy enough to rouse neighbors from sleep.  ANC6B had made their support of the renewal of the Tune Inn’s liquor license conditional on the signing of a Settlement Agreement making concessions to neighbors.  Although the owners of the Tune Inn objected to the proposed restrictions – especially those concerning late night/early morning disposal of bottles at the restaurant’s rear – everything seemed on track for the agreement.  However, according to one ANC commissioner familiar with the Tune Inn’s interaction with the city, once owners were assured by both ABRA and the Office of the Attorney General that signing of the Settlement Agreement was voluntary, and – perhaps – allowing the applicants to infer it was unnecessary, Tune Inn owners decided at the last minute not to sign and to move forward through the process without the ANC’s support.

The second perceived thumb of the nose at ANC6B by ABRA occurred earlier this year when the board dismissed an ANC protest against renewing the liquor license of Tortilla Coast on First Street, SE.  The protest arose from neighbor complaints and was based on requirements for peace, order, and quiet.  Tortilla Coast sits in a residential area and MPD has been called numerous times because of a faulty burglar alarm.  The restaurant, which is seeking an entertainment clause to its liquor license, has operated without a Settlement Agreement in recent years.  ABRA dismissed the ANC protest owing to the ANC representative’s tardy arrival at the ABRA hearing.  ANC6B’s appeal to reinstate the protest was rejected.

In the Tortilla Coast case, the new application for an entertainment license will give the ANC a second shot at requiring the business to come to terms with the neighbors.  Tune Inn neighbors will have to wait three years for the next license renewal cycle.

Capitol Hill Corner contacted ABRA for reaction to the ANC’s concerns, asking how much weight the Board gives to ANC opinions in light of the two cases and what was ABRA’s reaction to the perception that the Board is biased in the interests of the businesses it serves.

With respect to the Tune Inn, the emailed response stated that ABRA is required to give “great weight” to ANC recommendations but that doesn’t mean that the Board is required to act as requested.  “In the case of Tune Inn, there is no record of any protest to the license. Since the ANC did not file a protest within the provided timeframes, they waived their right to formerly protest the license.”

With respect to the Tortilla Coast protest, the request to reinstate was dismissed because the “Board finds that the ANC 6B did not demonstrate an effort to notify the Board or its administrative personnel of Commissioner Sarah Loveland’s delay to the Roll Call Hearing, and the Board finds no good cause to reinstate the ANC 6B” protest.

With respect to the perception of business bias, the Board’s public affairs specialist cited the wide opportunity for participation in the licensing process by the public and stated “the Board reviews each case on its own merits and in accordance with the laws set forth by DC Official Code.”

Still, between the lines of legalese there is left unanswered the questions of why, when the board had discretion to act, it did not act on behalf of the residents but on behalf of the applicants and why the benefit of doubt goes to the business in cases where it arose.  In this, the agency appears to be complying with the letter but not the spirit of the law.  ABRA is likely to hear more about this during the City Council’s oversight hearing for the agency next year.




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Representatives of Neighbor’s Group Withdraw Protest of Hill Center Liquor License – Absence of ANC 6B Support Cited As Critical Factor

Representatives of Neighbor’s Group Withdraw Protest of Hill Center Liquor License – Absence of ANC 6B Support Cited As Critical Factor

Larry Janezich

Wednesday morning, the group of neighbors protesting the Hill Center Liquor license filed a motion to withdraw their liquor license protest before the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration (ABRA).  The action came after the group had failed to win any concessions from the Hill Center and after two procedural setbacks on September 14, when ABRA denied the petition of Frank Young for reinstatement as a formal protestant and denied the protestor’s motion to quash the submission into evidence of a private email between protestants which had been obtained by the Hill Center.  The first was denied on the matter of finding no cause, and the second was denied on the grounds of the lack of jurisdiction to enforce privacy laws and failure of the petitioners to submit the email in question to the Board in order to determine its relevance.

According to representatives of the neighbor’s group, they have decided to pursue other options to curb the noise and late hours of nighttime parties at the Old Naval Hospital.  In an email to the members of the neighbors’ group, representatives acknowledged that, “[g]iven the intransigence of the Hill Center, the lack of support from the ANC6B Commission, the rejection by the ABCB of all of the motions submitted by neighbors, and the high probability of achieving nothing at the ABCB hearing, our judgment is that further opposition through the alcohol licensing process is futile. Other options may prove more fruitful. Therefore, we have decided to pursue those options instead.”

Those other options are still being discussed, but will probably involve individual neighbors taking action when and if late night/early morning noise and related disturbances reach high levels on specific occasions. Group representatives are seeking suggestions from all concerned neighbors as to what kinds of actions are appropriate and effective to reduce noise from late night events at the Center.

According to one protestant, a Hill Center representative indicated that had the ANC given more support to protesting neighbors, the Hill Center would have had to consider accommodating some of their demands.  The statement reinforces the apparent conviction of the protestors that ABRA is not a good venue for independent groups of neighbors without ANC backing.

In related news, the Capitol Hill Restoration Society Board of Directors narrowly defeated a motion to move its offices into the Hill Center, voting instead to renew their lease for a year at Kirby House, their current location.  The vote came at the Board’s July 19th meeting.  Both the vote and the discussion were held in a closed session of the Board, so additional details – including the reasons why the Restoration Society opted not to move into the Hill Center – were unavailable.

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ANC6B Update

ANC6B Update

by Larry Janezich

At its regularly scheduled September meeting on Tuesday night, ANC6B took the following actions:


Voted 8 – 1 to oppose ANC6C’s recommendation to the Ward Six Task Force on Redistricting, i.e., that ANC6C  absorb 1275 6B residents into a new single member district in ANC6C.  Those supporting:  Commissioners Critchfield, Garrison, Green, Frishberg, Campbell, Metzger, Flahaven, and Pate.  Opposed:  Oldenberg.

Community Action Group (CAG)

Voted 9 – 0 to support a special exception to allow parking for the Community Action Group (CAG) at an administrative/educational building to be constructed at 124 15th Street, SE, contingent upon the signing of a memo of understanding on facility operations between CAG and nearby residents.

Landscaping for Eastern Market Metro Plaza

Voted 9-0 to authorize Commissioner Garrison to support the expenditure of $100,000 in Performance Parking funds for landscaping at Eastern Market Metro Plaza in connection with the proposed Information Hub at that location.  Garrison is the ANC6B representative on the Department of Transportation Advisory Committee on Performance Parking which will meet Wednesday night to consider the funding of new non-transportation community projects.


Supported a new liquor license for Xavier Cervera’s new wine bar “Boxcar” currently under construction next to Tunnicliffs.

Details on these and other ANC6B news to follow.

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Hill Center Signals Aggressive Strategy in Status Hearing Before ABRA – No Progress Made in Mediation

Hill Center, July 29, 2011

Hill Center Signals Aggressive Strategy in Status Hearing Before ABRA – No Progress Made in Mediation

by Larry Janezich

Yesterday, the Alcohol Beverage Review Administration (ABRA) met with Hill Center and protesting neighbors at a Status Hearing to assess progress in the mediation process regarding the operations of the Center.  The opposing sides informed ABRA that no agreement had been reached.  A full hearing is scheduled for October 5.

At the hearing, the protesting neighbors informed ABRA that the Hill Center attorney had obtained without their consent private emails of the protest group’s participants.  The lawyer, Paul Pascal, declared his intent to use these emails in support of Hill Center in the full hearing if the protest continues, declaring the emails no different than the “tweets” issued by Representative Anthony Weiner which ultimately led to the Congressman’s resignation.

According to Pope Barrow, one of the protestors’ negotiators, obtaining and using the private email of others without their consent is a violation of Federal email privacy laws.  Barrow challenged their use at the hearing; Pascal responded that ruling on the question of privacy law was beyond the scope of ABRA.  The neighbors’ group requested that the Board postpone the October 5 hearing until the matter of obtaining and using private emails by the Hill Center could be investigated by ABRA or other appropriate authorities.  The Hill Center opposed granting a stay, and ABRA resolved to take the matter under consideration.  ABRA also denied the protestors request for a two week postponement of the hearing in order to allow all protestors to be present.

Following Hill Center’s initial rejection of the neighbors’ requests on July 28th, protesting neighbors made a second, more limited request on Friday, August 4th; this was rejected by the Hill Center as well.  With no successful mediation in sight, the ABRA Status Hearing presented the distance between the two sides and, in addition, displayed a level of acrimony and contentiousness not yet seen in the efforts to produce agreement on the operations of the Hill Center affecting nearby neighbors.

Hill Center Foundation President Nicky Cymrot sent the following statement to emmcablog this afternoon; “Hill Center continues to try to address concerns raised by neighbors either through the protest process before ABRA or through our operational procedures. We feel confident that Hill Center will be an asset to our community and that any issues that may arise once Hill Center opens can be quickly and effectively resolved.”


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Dueling Letters to Neighbors Highlight Public Relations Battle Prior to ABRA Status Hearing on Hill Center

Hill Center

Dueling Letters to Neighbors Highlight Public Relations Battle Prior to ABRA Status Hearing on Hill Center

by Larry Janezich

In an effort to shore up community relations, Nicky Cymrot, President of the Hill Center Foundation, sent a letter to immediate neighbors of the newly refurbished Hill Center.  In it, Cymrot made note of the efforts on the part of the Center to establish good relations with surrounding residents and explained that the later hours on the Voluntary Agreement already approved by ANC 6B allowed the Center to clean-up after events.

Organizers of the 156 individuals who signed the petition protesting the liquor license to ABRA cited that the ANC agreement made additional allowances for clean-up beyond the closing hours cited by Cymrot in her letter.  They continued to insist that the Hill Center sign a license that conformed to the liquor-service hours described on the Hill Center’s website.

Both letters are copied below.  A comparison of ending hours for Hill Center as stated in the Center’s alcohol license application, ANC Voluntary Agreement, Hill Center Website, and the neighbors request was published previously by emmcablog, on July 29.

Neighborhood protestors have also recently called on residents to not patronize or volunteer for the Hill Center and ask friends and neighbors not to patronize it until the Hill Center negotiates a new voluntary agreement with its neighbors.  At least one resident has asked for her donation to the Center to be returned.  Both parties are scheduled to meet for a status hearing on August 10; if the dispute has not been successfully mediated, then a protest hearing is scheduled for October 5th.  Without a resolution, no liquor license can be issued in the interim.

August 3, 2011

Dear Neighbors:

As you know, Hill Center is scheduled to open this fall. This is an exciting time. Years of hard work and dedication by many neighborhood volunteers has turned a derelict and neglected old building into a beautifully restored asset for the entire community.

Some of you have expressed concern about the operation of Hill Center and the impact it might have on your neighborhood. From the very first proposal to the city outlining the idea of Hill

Center some nine years ago, we have kept the interests of our immediate neighbors in mind. Like you, we are residents of Capitol Hill and value, just as you do, the quality of life we enjoy in our neighborhoods. With construction nearly completed, we are looking forward to opening Hill Center and remain fully committed to being good neighbors and conducting our operations accordingly.

We are listening to the concerns of neighbors and take them seriously. Please know that we are addressing these concerns whenever possible, and that we pledge to maintain an ongoing dialogue and an open-door policy to deal with matters as they arise:

• When our application to the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) for a license came before the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC), we addressed concerns you raised about operating hours, shortened them, considerably in some instances, and crafted a Voluntary Agreement (VA) that was approved unanimously by the ANC.

• We convened the first of a series of ‘community listening sessions’ with Diana Ingraham, Hill Center’s Executive Director, who has pledged to be available to neighbors. We will continue those sessions.

• After a group of neighbors filed a protest against Hill Center’s liquor license, we joined their representatives at the mediation table to discuss changes they wanted to the VA. The mediator told the neighborhood group that most of the items they were requesting were not issues that could be included in the agreement—that ABRA had no jurisdiction over them.

We at Hill Center, however, will do our best to take into consideration those concerns as we develop our operational procedures.

There remains a point of confusion about Hill Center’s hours of operation. Our intention is to limit the hours of programs and gatherings inside the building to 11 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, and midnight on Friday and Saturday. Since these hours do not include time for clean up, the hours on the ANC Voluntary Agreement extend the operating hours to allow us to do so. The use of the garden for scheduled gatherings will be limited to 9 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. We will also thoroughly screen all caterers and use only those who maintain the sensitivity to our neighbors that we will demand. Hill Center staff will be on hand at all times to enforce these requirements.

At this point, Hill Center has almost completed the full rehabilitation of the historic Old Naval Hospital, and we hope you will agree that the result is very beautiful. We want our neighbors to be among the first to take advantage of the exciting educational, cultural, and civic programs that Hill Center has to offer. We ask that you give us the benefit of the doubt and extend your good will as we all begin this new time. We will continue to do all we can to make sure that Hill Center remains an asset to the neighborhood and to the community.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@hillcenterdc.org.

Thank you,

Nicky Cymrot, President

Old Naval Hospital Foundation

August 3, 2011

Response from Representatives of the Group of 156 Near Neighbors to the Letter from Ms. Cymrot on behalf of the Hill Center

The Hill Center’s letter from Ms Cymrot to neighbors dated August 3, 2011, states that there is “confusion about Hill Center’s hours of operation” and that their “intention is to limit the hours of programs and gatherings inside the building to 11 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, and midnight on Friday and Saturday”.

If this statement is true, then why does the Hill Center (continue to) insist on continuing to hold to the ANC6B official licensing agreement showing alcohol service inside the building as late as 1 am Sunday through Thursday and 2 AM Friday and Saturday?  The ANC6B Voluntary Agreement also has Hours of Operation (clean up, etc.) listed as going on until 2 AM on weekdays and 3 AM on weekends.

If the Hill Center is not going to serve alcohol after 11 PM, why refuse to agree to do exactly that and to make the public commitment to place these restrictions on their license? Instead, neighbors are asked to “trust” them and told that “they are our neighbors too”.  (None of the board members, however, live in the nearby neighborhood.) Meanwhile, the Hill Center’s attorney, Paul Pascal, is telling the neighbors that the Hill Center will under no circumstances enter into an agreement with anyone (other than the ANC) about anything.

If there is any “confusion” about the hours of operation, that confusion is attributable to the Hill Center’s refusal to even discuss the numbers of visitors and closing hours with designated representatives for a group of 156 neighbors who signed petitions protesting the license. Those neighbors’ representatives are not confused about what is meant by closing at 1 AM and 2 AM. Those hours are not the same as 11 PM. The Hill Center rejected making the 11 PM closing official without allowing for any discussion or negotiation.  Those are the facts.

The concerned neighbors are almost 100 percent supportive of the Hill Center and its mission. However, the Hill Center’s initial demand that they stay open for alcohol service until 3 AM came as a shock and disappointment to many neighbors, and especially to those who had been supportive in the past. The change negotiated by ANC 6B to reduce alcohol service closing time by one hour to 1 AM Sunday through Thursday and 2 AM Friday and Saturday was considered, by the 156 neighborhood petitioners directly affected by a late night operation, to be inadequate. An agreement with those neighbors that specifies 11 PM closing hours would dispel any “confusion” that exists and restore some level of the good will toward the Hill Center.

Pope Barrow

Barbara Eck

Jill I. Lawrence


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Hill Center and Neighbors to Begin Mediation on Voluntary Agreement for Alcohol License

Hill Center and Neighbors to Begin Mediation on Voluntary Agreement for Alcohol License

by Barbara Riehle

This morning, about twenty neighbors of the soon-to-open Hill Center met at the Alcoholic Beverage Regulatory Administration (ABRA) on 14th  and U Streets, NW, to begin the formal protest and mediation process triggered by the Hill Center’s application for a liquor license.

Last month, ANC6B, by a vote of 8-0, approved a modified version of the Hill Center’s liquor license application over the objections of neighbors, several of whom noted that they only learned about the Hill Center’s application through EMMCAblog.  The action resulted in an organized protest of the license application with the purpose of strengthening the ANC-approved voluntary operating agreement which the neighbors considered inadequate.

In today’s action by ABRA, twenty five of the more than 150 residents who signed a related protest petition, were designated as official parties to the protest.  Pope Barrow, Kenneth Cooper, and Jill Lawrence were designated as official representatives of the protestants.  Nicky Cymrot, President of the Old Naval Hospital Foundation, and Paul Pascal, attorney for the Hill Center, were present on behalf of the applicant.  On Thursday, July 28, at 10 a.m. LaVerne Fletcher, the mediator, will begin mediation between Protest Representatives Barrow, Cooper, and Lawrence and Hill Center Representatives Pascal and Cymrot.  The purpose of the mediation is to hammer out a voluntary agreement on hours of operation, number of patrons, entertainment, parking, and the like. The Hill Center’s application seeks operating house from 7a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays and until 3 a.m. on weekends, with up to 500 patrons and amplified music inside and in the summer garden.  Partly in response to neighborhood concerns, Hill Center has posted alcohol service and entertainment policies on its website which are considerably scaled back from what the extremes of the application would permit.

Neighbors want these additional restrictions – as well as a few more – agreed to in writing as part of a new voluntary agreement.  A Status Hearing is tentatively scheduled for August 17, although attorney Pascal requested an earlier date due to vacation plans.  When the meeting does occur, ABRA will be informed about whether the two parties to the mediation process have reached agreement.  If the applicant and the protestants cannot reach agreement, a Protest Hearing is set for October 5.


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ANC 6B Approves Chipotle Application; Vows No Alcohol Moratorium for Barracks Row For Now; Accepts Finding of Fact on Bylaw Violations

ANC 6B Approves Chipotle Application; Vows No Alcohol Moratorium for Barracks Row For Now; Accepts Finding of Fact on Bylaw Violations

by Larry Janezich

In a varied and lengthy meeting Tuesday night, ANC 6B unanimously approved the application for a special exception in order to allow Chipotle Mexican Grill to open a restaurant on Barracks Row.  In other business-related news:  Pitango Gelato, now open on 7th Street, obtained ANC 6B’s blessing to provide outdoor seating on benches outside their storefront; and Pound on The Hill was also approved for outdoor tables and chairs.  Most significant, the Commission voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of the ANC’s Retail Mix Taskforce that the ANC forgo discussion of an alcohol moratorium on Barracks Row for the time being.  Commissioners concerned with the removal of this “tool” from the ANC “toolbox” accepted the resolution once language was added clarifying that the Commission reserves the right to revisit the question of a moratorium should conditions or constituent sentiment seem to warrant it.

The Commission also voted unanimously to accept the guiding principles set forward by the Retail Mix Taskforce outlining what should be under discussion when considering a liquor license application.  These principles stressed alleviating undesirable neighborhood effects, including encouraging staff to park their cars on non-residential blocks or to take public transportation.

In other business, the Commission voted to accept the findings of fact approved at Monday night’s Executive Committee meeting that stipulated the violations of the bylaws that occurred when Commissioner Garrison testified before the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) regarding the Hine project.  The findings extended to Commissioners Metzger and Oldenburg, on whose behalf Garrison also spoke.  The vote to approve the findings was 7 – 0 with three abstentions (Garrison, Metzger, and Oldenburg).  The Commission then voted to send a letter detailing the violations for the benefit of the HPRB and clarifying the position of ANC 6B on Hine for their record (abstaining on this vote were Campbell, Garrison, Metzger, and Oldenburg).  Taking a tack Garrison had refused in Monday night’s emergency Executive Meeting on the matter, Commissioner Oldenburg read a statement on behalf of herself, Metzger and Garrison.  Included in the statement was an acknowledgment of the infractions as well as an expression of “regret,” followed by an apology, and then a promise to “fully comply” with the bylaws in the future.  This statement seemed to mollify the Commissioners who seemed the most upset at the absence of “contrition” at the Executive Committee meeting last night; it also seemed to obviate the need for a lengthy and contentious discussion.

Near the meeting’s end, the Commission voted to send a letter – the exact content of which was to be determined – objecting to the abrupt removal of Councilmember Wells from his duties as Chair of the DC Council’s Transportation Committee today.  Seven Commissioners voted to approve the effort, while Commissioners Green and Critchfield opposed it and Commission Chair Neil Glick abstained.

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Hill Center Neighbors Detail Goals of Liquor License Protest

Hill Center Neighbors Detail Goals of Liquor License Protest

by Larry Janezich

A core group of protesting neighbors met on Friday, June 8, and agreed on which of the operational details governing the rental of space for social events currently listed by Hill Center on its website should be formalized in an enforceable voluntary agreement (VA).  In addition, the group agreed on a number of new restrictions that should be part of a new VA.

The list of items is as follows:

Hill Center policies on Website to be written into a VA

1)  Alcohol service in the Garden will end at 8:00 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 9:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.  Inside the building, alcohol sales will end at 11:00 p.m.  The hours for entertainment are the same as those for alcohol service.

2)  All equipment must be delivered after 7:00 a.m. and removed by 12:00 midnight.

3)  All events that expect more than 30 cars must contract with our approved valet parking vendor.  Hosts will encourage their guests to use public transportation and taxis.

In addition:  For events with 100 or more guests, jitney service will be provided between the parking site and the Hill Center in order to reduce the noise that results from patrons waiting for their cars to be brought to them,

4)  Clean up requirements of caterers regarding removal of trash from the site and restoring the building and/or the garden to its pre-event condition.

In addition, there should be a commitment to contract with the BID to insure that the area surrounding the site is cleaned up.

Additional items to be written into a VA

1)  Occupancy for special events would be limited to 250 people (outdoor and indoor combined).

2)  No amplification of sound at garden area events.  Windows will be closed for any indoor event.

3)  Security personnel for events serving alcohol will provide a visual presence on the site and the surrounding street will be monitored by security for at least one hour after closing time for the event.

4)  The Hill Center will facilitate access to personnel on site during events (cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, pagers or whatever will expedite resolution of problems.

5)  The Hill Center will keep a log of complaints and resolutions of problems that will be accessible to the neighborhood upon request.

6)  The staff and/or board will convene a meeting with Hill Center neighbors 6 months after the VA is signed by both parties and approved by ABRA.  This meeting will provide an opportunity for discussion as to whether the VA has met the expectations of both sides.  Mutually agreeable changes will be made after a free and open discussion.

7)  Any transfer of this alcohol beverage license will be limited to transfer to another 501C3 organization.

8)  The Old Naval Hospital Foundation shall amend the Alcohol Beverage license application to include the changes in this Voluntary Agreement and file this with the Alcohol Beverage Review Board.

Protest group leaders Jill Lawrence and Barbara Eck have released specific items they hope to see included in a new voluntary operational agreement (VA) with Hill Center.  Lawrence has been the point person in organizing neighborhood meetings and gathering signatures on the protest letter and petitions of support.  Erepresentatives.ck has led the efforts in navigating ABRA regulations and liaising with Hill Center.


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Neighborhood Group Files Formal Protest On Hill Center Liquor License Application – Wants New, Tougher Voluntary Operating Agreement

Neighborhood Group Files Formal Protest On Hill Center Liquor License Application – Wants New, Tougher Voluntary Operating Agreement

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.

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