On Monday, July 8th there was a “Roll Call” Hearing for the liquor license application of Brookland’s Finest, a new restaurant hoping to open at 12th and Jackson Streets NE. The purpose of the hearing was to identify who the valid protesters are as the application proceeds. As it turned out, two groups were given standing.
- ANC Commissioner Carolyn Steptoe was granted standing on behalf of ANC 5B, as the ANC has standing to protest as a matter of right.
- Three individuals were jointly granted standing as the designated representatives of 53 residents.
Two churches (First Church Christ Holiness at 1219 Hamlin St NE and Grace United Baptist Church at 1219 Jackson St. NE) submitted protest petitions, which were dismissed for lack of standing as churches do not have standing to protest unless they share a wall with the applicant.
So what happens next? There will be a mediation session in early August to attempt to resolve differences between the protestants and the restaurant management. If not resolved, the matter will be heard at a full protest hearing open to the public on August 14th at 4 pm. I filmed the entire hearing in five parts, below.
Part 1 – In this video the hearing gets underway, the restaurant management team and ANC 5B04 Commissioner Steptoe are identified. Protestants from The First Church Christ Holiness are identified and are informed that their protest is dismissed because churches do not have standing to file liquor license protests. One of the members of the neighborhood group that is protesting stepped up and offered a form stating that members of the Church had designated two neighbors as their representatives in this case, so they would still be represented in that capacity.
Part 2 – In this video, the ABRA employee running the hearing seeks to ascertain which First Church Christ Holiness protestants present also designated the neighborhood group as their representatives. There were also some late arrivals from the First Church Christ Holiness, and although their protest was dismissed, ABRA needed to capture their names for the record. In the end, it was unclear to me how many church protestants also designated the neighborhood group as their representatives.
Part 3 – In this video, the Pastor of the First Church Christ Holiness has a lengthy exchange with the ABRA employee running the hearing about why the Church’s petition was dismissed. Although the list of groups who have standing to file a protest is clearly stated on ABRA’s website, I feel the Pastor had a point in that they received a letter from ABRA telling them to show up to the hearing – only to be told their protest was dismissed. You would think there might be a more efficient way to handle protest submissions. Notably, in the last few seconds of the video, the Pastor tells the employee “…when violence breaks out because of this attempt to bring debauchery into our area – that is between you and God…”
Part 4 – In this video, members of the Grace United Baptist Church are identified and are informed that their protest is dismissed because churches do not have standing to file liquor license protests. Again, there was an exchange with the ABRA employee running the hearing about what the Church might do to “regroup” and have their voices heard. The ABRA employee informed them that they may petition the ABC Board to ask for standing as a community group if at least 5 church members who the signed their protest live in close proximity.
Part 5 – In this video, 5 members of the group of neighbors who are protesting the restaurant’s liquor license identify themselves and are granted standing. The designated representatives for the group are identified so that they may represent the interests of those in their group going forward. The mediation hearing and status hearing dates are set.