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Local Business

Protest of Renewal of ABC Licenses in SMD 5CO1 -- An Update
By James Berry
Jul 22, 2006, 08:11

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On Wednesday, June 21, 2006, I appeared at a roll call hearing before the Chairman and members of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in connection with the decision of ANC 5C to protest the renewal of the licenses of Moon Liquors, 322 Florida Avenue, N.W.; Sunset Liquors, 1627 First Street, N.W.; and Walter Johnson's Liquor Store, 1542 North Capitol Street, N.W., respectively. Predictably, ANC 5C was found to have entered a timely and appropriate petition to protest the renewal of the licenses of these three establishments, after which a date for a status hearing was set for Wednesday, August, 16, 2006.

Between 6/21/2006 and our scheduled return on 8/16/2006, I am expected to get together with the owners of these establishments to determine whether the terms of a voluntary agreement can be worked out. If so, an agreement would be signed between ANC 5C and the establishment and the protest process would end at that point. If not, we will be required to participate in a process of mediation with an employee of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration to, again, determine whether or not a voluntary agreement can be worked out. If the parties fail to reach an agreement by this stage of the process, then a formal protest hearing is scheduled.

As you may know, ANC 5C has a pre-existing voluntary agreement with each of these stores and I believe it is fair to say that in all instances these stores have performed unsatisfactorily in meeting the terms of their respective agreement. To my surprise, each of these stores is now operated by a different person than the one with whom ANC 5C negotiated the voluntary agreement approximately three years ago. Interestingly, in my preliminary discussion with each of them, they didn't seem to have a clue about the frustration and disapproval that a large segment of the community has with their operations. Hence, I ask you to let me know whether you feel that any or all of these stores are having a negative impact upon our community and why (in as specific a detail as you can provide).

If you decide to weigh in on these licenses, I urge you to do so separately. That is, each of these cases will be heard separately and on their individual merits. Also, I am maintaining a file of protest documentation for each licensee that I will use in their respective cases. For example, I expect to be in a position to say that 100+ citizens expressed the view that Establishment A should be denied the privilege of continuing to sell alcohol products in our community for the following reasons. For Establishment B, there may be 200 of you who feel this way. And, for Establishment C, there may be more or less than Establishment B.

If you agree that these licensees are a problem, then the content of your email must reflect problems in one or more of the following areas: (1) upon the "peace, order and quiet" of our community; (2) on "property values," (3) re. the issue of "excessive trash and debris" that the business generates and/or (4) problems related to "parking or automobile traffic." Peace, order and quiet generally refers to the loitering, excessive noise, public drinking and other problems that some of these establishments attract or facilitate. Finally, it is important that you include your true name and address in your responses. Email monikers will not be taken seriously by the ABC Board, nor by me.

Please know that there are a number of residents of our area who support these liquor stores and, I am certain, will be asked by the business owners to share their views with the ABC Board at the appropriate time. In fact, I have been contacted already by some supporters.

So, this is your opportunity to let me know whether you support our protest of these three establishments and why. If I don't hear from you, I will assume that your position on the issue is neutral.

I look forward to hearing from those of you who want to weigh in. At absolute worst, your feedback should serve to inform the business owners and operators of these stores of how their operations are perceived by their neighbors. Please have your response(s) back to me by Monday, August 7, 2006.


Jim Berry

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