It seems like you can’t get too far into a conversation around the neighborhood without the topic of Brookland’s Finest, a new restaurant hoping to open at 12th and Jackson Streets NE, coming up. Now that the deadline to submit a protest of the restaurant’s liquor license application has come and gone, we decided to lay out where the restaurant stands in the process.
Many were surprised to hear at the most recent ANC 5B meeting that in addition to the ANC protest, and protests that were filed in May, there were a number of new protests submitted to DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) in June. There was also a Settlement Agreement submitted to ABRA that was negotiated by Brookland resident Jose “Joe” Barrios and the restaurant’s management, that we covered here. For those interested, the protests and the settlement agreement are public documents, and are easily obtained by contacting ABRA’s Sarah Fashbaugh at Sarah(dot)Fashbaugh(at)dc(dot)gov. So, first off, who can protest a liquor license? From ABRA:
Abutting property owner
Group of five or more property owners sharing common ground or a group of three or more in a moratorium zone
Incorporated citizens association
Affected Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC)
DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)
We took a look at the protests and the settlement agreement. First, here is our analysis of the protests. At first glance, you can’t help but notice that all the protests bear almost identical language throughout, suggesting a single source responsible for initiating and/or collecting the various petitions. Here is a breakdown:
1) In May, a combined 31 signatures from three different documents were collected and submitted that all appear to be from the local Brookland community. The farthest appears to be at 13th and Monroe. On May 19th (based on fax time stamp) 20 signatures were sent to ABRA, on May 20th there were 11 more.
2) On June 23rd, 22 additional signatures were submitted that are also from Brookland neighbors. One was a signature in the name of a church, so as far as we know, that one signature would be invalid.
3) On June 24th, the day of the ABRA protest deadline, two protest petitions were filed from two local churches with a combined total of 63 signatures. Among these, only one signature is from Brookland; the remainder are from all other parts of DC and suburban Maryland. Several signatures used the church address, making it impossible to determine where they’re from unless the protestants do in deed live at the church itself. There were approximately 27 signatures from Maryland on these two church petitions, from as far away as Largo and Clinton. As far as we know, signatures from non DC residents do not carry any standing with ABRA.
Putting all this in consideration there are about 53 combined valid protest signatures.
On to the settlement agreement.
On June 24th Joe Barrios submitted a settlement agreement to ABRA. The framework for the settlement agreement came about as the result of a meeting that was advertised with flyers to every residence within a one block radius of the proposed restaurant. The residents (full disclosure – I was one of them) in attendance were generally supportive of the establishment but had concerns with regards to operation of the summer garden/patio, noise, garbage, and the like. The result was a series of proposals that ultimately served as the basis for the Agreement and led to the restaurant amending their application to limit the summer garden (outdoor) seating area hours to 10 pm weekdays and 11 pm weekends at the request of the residents. Looking at the signatures in support of the settlement agreement, there were 149, all which appear valid and within roughly a three block radius from the proposed restaurant (Monroe to Girard Street and the Railroad tracks to 13th Street, NE). We therefore believe this puts Brookland’s Finest in a strong position going into any subsequent negotiations or the final hearing. Notably, the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association (BNCA) has also passed a motion supporting Brookland’s Finest in light of the Settlement.
So what is next? There will be a series of ABRA hearings as follows:
On July 8th there will be “Roll Call” Hearing at 10:00 am. The people (or a designated representative) who are protesting must show up to the hearing or their protests will be dismissed. Assuming the protestants show up, a settlement conference/mediation is scheduled in which the protestants and the restaurant management will attempt to reach a compromise with the help of an ABRA mediator. If a compromise cannot be met at mediation, a Protest Hearing will take place where both sides will present their evidence in support of their positions.
The Protest Hearing date has already been scheduled for August 14, at 4:0o pm.
From what we understand, the only people allowed to testify at the Protest Hearing are a limited number of people who are selected ahead of time by either the protestants and the restaurant. However, we also understand that a strong showing of either support or protest by those in attendance can hold some sway with ABRA, and we have also been told that there will be a way for those in attendance to indicate their support or opposition at the Hearing. All ABRA hearings are open to the public and will take place at 2000 14th Street, NW on the 4th floor. We will let you know of any new developments as we hear of them.