Brookland’s Finest Roll Call Hearing Results In Two Protest Groups (Video)

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.

  1. ANC Commissioner Carolyn Steptoe was granted standing on behalf of ANC 5B, as the ANC has standing to protest as a matter of right.
  2. 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.

13 thoughts on “Brookland’s Finest Roll Call Hearing Results In Two Protest Groups (Video)”

  1. Very interesting. I hope all goes well for the BF team but one suggestion…next time guys don’t wear shorts to the hearing, put you finest foot forward and dress more professionally.

  2. Best wishes to Brookland’s Finest. Our family looks forward to patronizing your great restaurant once the dust settles.

  3. It boggles my mind that these ANC’s can protract development for so long. Yes, I understand the need for community input, but these major time delays add extraordinary costs to development.

    1. thankfully, the delays are no longer indefinite.

      last year the DC Council passed and the Mayor signed some significant changes to the alcohol licensing process here in DC. this roll call hearing, the protest process, the mediation are now all being driven by the schedule that started once Brookland’s Finest formally filed their ABC license application and posted the placards. before last year’s law changes, these delays could actually last a year or more, and now they are to only last a few months. a delay yes, but thankfully no longer one without an end in sight.

  4. Were you able to get a sense of the type of “debauchery” that the pastor is afraid will come to the neighborhood? Are he and his congregants opposed to liquor in general or is there something else that they are concerned about?

  5. Thanks for posting. Were you ever able to get copies of the protest that was filed? There were questions about whether some of the 53 were actually members of the close in neighborhood.

  6. Greetings All,

    I have just been told by someone in DC city government that the ANC may not have standing. The ANC voted to support the protest at a meeting where the agenda was not properly noticed. In order for them to vote on supporting the protest, it had to be on the agenda. This is intended for the public to have notice about matters before the ANC and for the public to have the opportunity to comment or attend the meeting to hear debate. In addition, there should have been the opportunity to discuss the vote or the issue with the public. Does anyone know if it is too late to challenge the ANC’s standing given this new information?

  7. Whether the ANC’s standing can be challenged will depend on the actual regulations governing the activities of the ANCs and the standards for notice. It would certainly be poetic justice if an ANC’s practice of springing surprise agenda items or votes on controversial issues of concern in the community without prior notice could result in the ANC not having standing. But that will only be actionable if the regulations actually support that. If the particular “someone in the DC city government” could point out the actual regualtory basis for sayin that, it would certainly put a lot of things in a new light.

  8. Greetings,

    And so, we (hopefully) will come the end of this long and winding road. Jose “Joe” Barrios wrote on Jon Hurwitz’s Change.org: “DC ABRA: Approve Brookland’s Finest liquor license application (ABRA-092010) page:

    “Neighbors,
    The mediation session between Brookland’s Finest and the protesters including Commissioner Steptoe did not go well this week. I was not present, but word was that our commissioner was in her usual form, yelling her way through the meeting and making absurd claims–including that an agreement painstakingly negotiated and then signed by 149 Brookland residents should be dismissed as nothing but a “template.”

    Brookland’s residents can beat the nonsense with facts and overwhelming community support. That’s why I’m asking every possible resident to show up at the ABRA hearing next week.
    So far I’ve heard from some of you that you will be attending, but not enough. We need more people to fill up every seat.
    PLEASE WEAR RED TO THE HEARING! We are asking all Brookland’s Finest supporters to wear something red–a shirt, a cap, whatever–so that ABRA knows at a glance who’s there supporting the restaurant.

    DATE: Wednesday, August 14th, 2013
    TIME: 4 PM ET
    ARRIVAL: Arrive early if you want seating! You must also pass through security.
    LOCATION: Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA)
    2000 14th Street, NW, Suite 400 South
    Washington, D.C. 20009
    LENGTH: The hearing can last up to 4 hours, please plan accordingly.
    GETTING THERE: The location is at 14th and U St NW. Parking is a challenge. The closest metro stop, a block away, is the U Street stop on the Green/Yellow line.

    RSVP: Please email me if you plan to attend so that I can get a rough head count.
    I look forward to seeing you next week!
    Jose “Joe” Barrios”

    I plan to be there early to make sure I get a seat. I cannot agree with Joe more when he says to show up strong. The only way for ABRA to not be swayed by an elected official is to see the official does not represent the needs of the majority of her constituents. If you have not emailed Joe already, please do so. Hopefully, I will see you ALL of you on the 14th rocking the red!

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