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A Liquor License Moratorium for 14th and U Corridor?

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Click for a larger image: The proposed 14th and U liquor license moratorium zone.

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at tom[AT]borderstan.com. Follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

Two citizen groups have filed a petition with the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to establish a liquor license moratorium zone for the 14th and U Street NW corridor.

The Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) and the Residential Action Coalition (RAC) request that a circular zone be established that extends 1,800 feet (about 1/3 of a mile) from 1211 U Street NW — the location of Ben’s Next Door — and adjacent to the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant. (See New Citizens’ Organization Seeks Different Path for 14th U and Online Petition Opposing Liquor License Moratorium Draws Support.)

Borderstan was unable to find a website or Facebook page for RAC — only a listing for the organization with a T Street address. The signer for RAC on the petition letter was Kathryn A. Eckles while SDCA President Joan Sterling was the other signatory.

The proposed zone would be a circle, and extend as far as Clifton Street NW to the north, R Street to the south and have 8th and 15th streets as the east and west boundaries, respectively.

The zone includes blocks in Wards 1, 2 and 6 and portions of all four Borderstan area Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) and four Metropolitan Police Service Areas (PSAs). The four ANCs impacted are 2B (Dupont Circle), 2F (Logan Circle), 1B (which includes U Street and Columbia Heights) and a small section of 6E (Shaw).

The filing by SDCA and RAC cites 107 liquor licences in the proposed zone, with another twelve in the regulatory pipeline or planning stages (see the full list submitted with the filing). The petitioners argue that the density of licenses in the area have “imposed extremely stressful conditions” on residents; specifically noise, crime and parking problems. The second factor is that growth of licenses in other areas of the city — where new businesses may be needed — has been stunted. SDCA unanimously voted to endorse a moratorium at their August 2012 meeting.

Once ABRA’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board determines that the petition meets all the criteria for consideration under DC Law, the Board will hold a public hearing to review the petition. In addition to public testimony for or against the petition, the Board will request comment from affected ANCs and Councilmembers, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of Planning, among others. The DC Council would also have to approve the moratorium.

The ABC Board has several options after hearing testimony and comments. Grant or deny the request in its entirety. Grant in part by enlarging or decreasing the size of the zone, or limiting the moratorium to one class of liquor license. There are currently five liquor license moratorium zones within DC: Georgetown, Glover Park, Adams Morgan, Dupont West and Dupont East.

SDCA was founded in 2012 and includes blocks near the center of the moratorium zone. RAC was founded in 1981 and serves residents in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, which would include about three blocks at the southwestern edge of the proposed moratorium zone.

The filing of the moratorium petition by SDCA and RAC comes just days after Mayor Vincent Gray officially enacted major changes to laws and regulations pertaining to alcohol sales. Among the changes in the law is a provision that would dismiss any liquor license protest by a group of five or more residents if an applicant reaches an agreement with their ANC.

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Posted in Politics & Government25 Comments

Gaylarious Returns to Dupont Circle on Dec. 6

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

"Gaylarious"

Gaylarious at La Kazbah. (Courtesy Gaylarious)

The stand-up comedy group Gaylarious is returning to Dupont Circle this week. Hosts Zach Toczynski and Chris Doucette will present a diverse group of comics from DC and New York City.

La Kazbah will be the place and as a bonus, local DJ Adam Koussari-Amin will provide the music. Doucette, who is a part-time Borderstan resident, recalled to Borderstan that he and Toczynski started Gaylarious in 2007 in the basement of what was then HR 57 on 14th Street in Logan Circle.

Shows frequently sell out early so get your tickets early. Tickets are $15 online or $17 at the door. If you pay at the door, please have cash. You can use your credit card for food and drink.

When: December 6, 2012 at 8:30 pm (Doors open at 7:30)
Where: La Kazbah Lounge at 2147 P Street, NW

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Posted in Arts & EntertainmentComments Off

A Closer Look At Neighborhood ANC Election Results

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There were six contested ANC races in the neighborhood on Tuesday. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

For complete vote counts from Tuesday’s six contested ANC races, see Contested ANC Races: Some Clear Winners, Some Narrow Leads.

Now that the media buzz surrounding the national election has started to subside we can take a closer look at the six contested races in the Borderstan area for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner seats (ANC) to represent Single Member Districts (SMD).

ANC 1B (U Street)

SMD 1B-12 is a new, additional district for ANC 1B and includes blocks from 12th Street NW to 14th Street and from S to V Streets, plus a panhandle composed of the blocks on the north side of U and south of V Street from 14th to New Hampshire Avenue. (It was formed from 2B-02, where the population doubled between 2000 and 2010.) Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling has held the seat since a special election in October 2011, but declined to run for a full term in 2012.

The SMD includes two large residential developments which have been the subject of heated debate at community meetings. Specifically, an apartment building now under construction at 14th and Wallach Place, NW and a proposed apartment at 13th and U NW on the site of the Rite Aid drugstore.

In a city where ANC races often only have one candidate, it is testament to the issues facing the blocks around 14th and U, that four candidates were on the ballot. Zahra Jilani apparnently won the race with 36% of the vote and an 18 vote lead over the next closest candidate, John Green (provisional and absentee ballots have not yet been counted).

Site excavation is well underway at 14th and Wallach and the 13th and U project is moving closer to reality, yet  the debate on development and the inevitable alcohol licensing battles are far from over. Safe to say, Jilani’s vote on issues before the ANC will be closely watched.

ANC 2B (Dupont Circle)

In ANC 2B there will be several new faces since long-time residents and Commissioners Bob Meehan (2B-03), Phil Carney (2B-07) and Victor Wexler (2B-05) decided not to run for re-election. However, Wexler withdrew after the ballots were printed and he technically won the race over a write-in candidate — the next steps to fill the seat in January are unclear at this point.

Two important events affecting the neighborhoods east of Connecticut Avenue in Dupont are the planned renovations to Stead Park on P Street, and the East Dupont Liquor License Moratorium, which comes up for renewal in 2013.

In the contested Dupont Circle races, Stephanie Maltz  won the race in 2B-03 by a wide margin, with 77% of the vote. This SMD includes blocks along the east side of Connecticut Avenue from Dupont Circle to R Street then jogs over to include the S Street Dog Park to the north and the northwest corner of 17th and Q on the south.

The three-way race for Jacobson’s seat in 2B-04 was won by Kishan Putta who garnered 62% of the votes. Putta’s SMD is bounded by 15th and 17th Streets on the east and west, S Street to the north and Q Street on the south. Current Commissioner Jack Jacobson (2B-04) did not run again and was elected as Ward 2 Representative to the DC State Board of Education.

ANC 2F (Logan Circle)

ANC 2F grew from six to eight seats after the 2010 U.S. Census. The SMDs comprising Logan Circle’s ANC 2F are a diverse mix and include the condo lined 1400 block of Church Street, the historic townhouses surrounding Logan Circle and even a few blocks of office buildings south of Massachusetts Avenue. The agenda for 2F meetings are always heavy with issues relating to development, public safety, alcohol licensing and parking.

SMD 2F02, which runs from 15th Street to 13th Street NW and from Rhode Island Avenue on the south to Q Street on the north, had a three-way race for Commissioner. Walt Cain won the race with a comfortable margin over Adam Stempel and James Baker.

The race was a little tighter in SMD 2F-04 on the east side of Logan Circle. John Fanning, who had served on the ANC in the early 1990s, apparently defeated another long-time resident, Joel Heisey by 14 votes (absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted). In SMD 2F-08, incumbent Matt Connolly holds a comfortable lead over challenger Howard Marks.

Winners of the races will take office in January 2013 when the new redistricting changes — necessitated by the 2010 Decennial Census results — take effect. Dupont Circle’s ANC 2B had no major changes in boundaries, ANC 1B will now have an additional SMD and ANC 2F will have two additional SMDs.

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Posted in Politics & Government1 Comment

ANC 1B-12 Candidate Forum Covers Variety of Topics

"ANC 1B"

ANC 1B includes most of the U Street corridor. 1B-12 is in the southwest corner. (ANC 1B website, with boundaries in effect for the 2012 election.)

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com. Follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

Candidates in the four-way race for Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B’s Single Member District (SMD) 1B-12 gathered for a forum last week to introduce themselves and give attendees a chance to ask questions. The forum was sponsored by the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) and the Meridian Hill Neighborhood Association. (See New Citizens’ Organization Seeks Different Path for 14th and U about SDCA).

The four candidates are Erling Bailey, John Green, Zahra Jilani and Dan Wittels. Organizers also invited Noah Smith, the candidate from neighboring SMD 2B-09 (Dupont) which falls into the boundaries of the SDCA, and is running unopposed for the seat being vacated by 10-year incumbent Ramon Estrada.

New SMD

SMD 1B-12 is a new, additional district for ANC 1B and includes blocks from 12th Street NW to 14th Street and from S to V Streets, plus a panhandle composed of the blocks on the north side of U and south of V Street from 14th to New Hampshire Avenue. Due to a large growth in population in the U Street corridor, ANC 1B-02 was essentially split into two parts to create the new SMD 12. Incumbent Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling is not seeking a full term in ANC 1B-02.

The SMD is home to some high-profile restaurants and landmarks including Ben’s Chili Bowl, the Black Cat, Busboys & Poets, Cafe Saint-Ex and the Lincoln Theater. The area also includes two large residential development; a apartment building currently under construction at 14th and Wallach Place, NW and a proposed apartment at 13th and U on the site of the Rite Aid drugstore.

Forum Topics

Doug Johnson, an SDCA Board Member, moderated the evening and had three pre-arranged questions for the candidates. At the start of the forum Johnson pointed out that candidate Dan Wittels is also a Board Member of the SDCA, but was removed from planning for the forum. Johnson also allowed attendees to ask questions of the candidates.

Questions during the evening covered topics such as experience with DC agencies, communication strategies and views on business development. Responses to questions on business development brought up the topic of the liquor licences and diversity of commerce in the area and highlighted the differing viewpoints of the candidates. The SMD includes the much discussed 14th and Wallach residential building and the JBG hotel-turned-apartment project on the Rite-Aid site at 13th and U Streets, NW.

Borderstan will be sending the candidates additional questions which will be published in the weeks leading up to the election.

The general election is Tuesday, November 6. Check with the DC Board of Election and Ethics for information on registering to vote and voting locations.

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Posted in Politics & Government1 Comment

DC Liquor Board Reaffirms Hank’s Oyster Bar Decision

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Hank’s Oyster Bar was forced to close half of its patio seating, but with the ABC Board’d decision that will change tonight. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com. You can follow him on Twitter
@Tomonswann.

The Washington City Paper reported today that the District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) has ruled that Hank’s Oyster Bar did meet all three criteria for termination of the Voluntary Agreement (VA), which the Dupont Circle restaurant had been operating under since opening in 2005.

The ABC Board had first issued an order in 2010 allowing termination of the VA. That decision was appealed to the DC Court of Appeals by several of the original signatories who protested Hank’s alcohol license. The appellate court ruled in May 2012 that the ABC Board erred in their decision which prompted the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration to shut down half of Hank’s outdoor patio, just as the busy outdoor dining season was getting underway.Hank’s has posted on their Facebook page that full patio seating will be available tonight at 1624 Q Street NW.

The most recent order by the ABC Board allows Jamie Leeds, Hank’s chef and owner, to seat the patio dining area to full capacity. The partial closure of the patio prompted an online petition in support of Leeds and came just weeks before hearings on revisions to the District’s alcohol laws. The proposed legislation limits what may be included in a VA and also further defines who has standing to protest a liquor license.

See the related posts below for more information on the Hank’s saga.

Posted in Food & Drink, Politics & Government1 Comment

14th and S Residential Project Nears Completion

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The apartment building on 14th Street NW from S to Swann Streets is almost ready. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

The long anticipated development at 14th and S Streets NW is nearing completion and the developer expects it to be ready for occupancy this fall. The residential-commercial project, named The District, includes a historic building that was the former home of the Whitman Walker Clinic. The project is the largest residential building to become available on the stretch of 14th Street between U Street and Thomas Circle.

A sign over the construction entrance in the alley between Swann and S Streets indicates the project is 65 days away from the first tenant move-in. James Nozar of JBG Companies, the developer of the project along with Grosvenor, confirmed that the sign is accurate. Nozar told Borderstan, “Floors would be ready at a rate of one floor per week, so the total building will be complete on Dec 3rd.” They expect to start taking rental reservations in early October when pricing will be released.

At the time of the 2010 groundbreaking the project was conceived as a high-end condominium project. About a year later the developers of the project changed course and announced that the building would be marketed as a boutique apartment building. The seven story building will have 125 apartments with ground floor retail.

Two restaurants have already announced plans for the prime location. Ted’s Bulletin is going to occupy the space at the corner of 14th and Swann Streets  and an Asian concept restaurant by Mark Kuller — who conceived Estadio down the street at 14th and Church Streets — will take the space at the corner of 14th and S Streets. The same owners of Ted’s Bulletin will be opening another location of  famed pizza/ pasta/wine bar Matchbox at the northwest corner of 14th and T Streets NW.

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Posted in BusinessComments Off

DDOT Begins Limited Implementation of Visitor Parking Program

From Tom Hay. Email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com. Follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

The DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) has issued an emergency rulemaking order to expand a popular Visitor Parking Program(VPP) citywide. The VPP was a pilot program serving neighborhoods in several wards citywide.

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Parking in the city? (Luis Gomez Photos)

In the Borderstan area that includes residential blocks of Ward 2 surrounding the Howard Theater and in Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 1A, 1B and 1C in Ward 1. (See Dupont Circle ANC Hosts Public Forum on Resident Parking Regs.)

Under the VPP program participants in DC’s Residential Parking Program (RPP) are mailed a permanent visitor parking pass which permits their guests to park on RPP streets for longer than the allowed two hours. The alternative in the past was to make an in person visit to a police station to obtain a temporary visitor permit each time you had a visitor who needed to park for longer than two hours.

The emergency rulemaking addressed the expiration of the pilot program and also added new language, “subject to the availability of funds, the Director shall implement a visitor parking pilot program within all residential parking permit areas in the District”.

The proposal also states that the Director may phase in the VPP program citywide and sets the expiration for the pilot on September 30, 2013. The public has 30 days to comment on the regulation.

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Posted in Politics & Government1 Comment

New Signs for More Restrictive Visitor Parking Going Up

From Tom Hay. Follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann or email him at Tom[AT]borderstan.com.

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Tougher parking restrictions for visitors have already gone into effect on the 1400 block of Swann Street NW. (Tom Hay)

The enhanced Residential Parking Program (RPP) pilot program is starting to be implemented. Under this program, one side of a residential block is reserved for certain hours for local residents only (by DC Ward parking permits). (See ANC 2F Votes to Support New Parking Regs Benefiting Residents.)

Last week D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) employees were seen installing new signage on the 1400 block of Swann Street NW. Now, parking on the northern side of the block is reserved for residents with either Ward 1 or Ward 2 parking stickers from 7 am to midnight, seven days a week. The other side of the block is still available for parking to both residents and visitors under the current posted rules.

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Posted in Politics & Government2 Comments

Borderstan ANC Races: Six Contested Races in 2B, 2F and 1B

From Tom Hay. Follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann or email him at Tom[AT]borderstan.com.

"ANC 2B"

Click for a larger image: The new ANC 2B map for the 2012 election. (DC Board of Elections)

A few weeks ago we gave you an early overview of who picked up candidate petitions for Borderstan-area Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) seats.

In the Borderstan area, there are 21 Single Member District (SMD) seats up for grabs on the November 6 ballot in three different local ANCs: 2B/Dupont, 2F/Logan and 1B, which includes most of the U Street corridor.

The deadline for submitting petitions was close of businesses on Wednesday at the DC Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE), and the updated list of candidates who have submitted the required 25 signatures can be found on their website. Occasionally, candidates are denied ballot access when petition signatures are declared invalid. Plus, some candidates pull out of a race prior to election day.

Redistricting Changes ANC Boundaries

Registered DC voters should have received a new voter registration card in the mail which reflects redistricting changes to Ward, ANC and SMD boundaries. In the Borderstan area redistricting affected all three ANCs, particularly 1B and 2F, both of which have additional SMDs due to population growth over the past decade.

ANC 2B/Dupont

Contested races are now confirmed for SMDs 2B-03 and 2B-04 in ANC 2B, while in the other seven seats there is only one candidate.

  • The 2B0-3 slate to replace the retiring Bob Meehan has two candidates, Bevan Mace and Stephanie Maltz.
  • The 2B0-4 race for the seat now held by Jack Jacobson, who is running for Ward 2 representative to the DC Board of Education. Confirmed candidates for his seat are Martin Espinoza, Stephanie Sheridan and Kishan Putta.
  • Leo Dwyer is the sole candidate for the 2B-07 seat held by Phil Carney who is retiring.
  • Similarly situated is Noah Smith, who is running unopposed for the 2B-09 seat held by Ramon Estrada; he is not seeking reelection after 10 years holding the seat.
  • Incumbent Commissioners Mike Feldstein (2B-01), Kevin O’Connor (2B-02), Victor Wexler (2B-05), Mike Silverstein (2B-06) and Will Stephens (2B-08) have no opponents.
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Click for a larger image: The new ANC 2F map for the 2012 election. (DC Board of Elections)

ANC 2F/Logan Circle

The Logan Circle neighborhood had significant growth in recent years and ANC 2F has two new SMDs for a total of eight seats. The ANC will have thee contested races, in SMDs 02, 04 and 08.

  • Current Chair of 2F, Mike Benardo, is not seeking reelection for the 2F-06 seat. The only candidate for the recently redrawn 2F-06 is Greg Melcher .
  • Longtime Commissioner Charles Reed in 2F-01 is retiring and the only candidate to file papers is Peter Lallas.
  • Candidates Chris Linn (2F-03), James Lamare (2F-05) and Greg Melcher (2F-06) face no opposition. Current Commissioner Matt Raymond (2F-07) is also running unopposed.
  • In 2F-04 are John Fanning and Joel Heisey will face off on November 6.
  • Incumbent Commissioner Matthew Connolly will face Howard Marks on election day. He currently represents SMD 05, but with the new map he is in SMD 08. Update: Ricardo Ampudia’s nominating petitions were challenged and the Board of Elections declared he lacked the necessary signature to be on the November 6 ballot.
  • Noteworthy in 2F is a three-way race for the 2F0-2 seat vacated this year by Nick Barron. Running for the seat — which includes the commercial strip along the 1400 block of P Street NW — are Adam Stempel, Walt Cain and James Baker. Note: Jack Jetmund withdrew from the race.

ANC 1B

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Click for a larger image: The new ANC 1B map for the 2012 election. (DC Board of Elections)

There is only one contested race in ANC 1B that falls within the boundaries of the Borderstan coverage area. ANC 1B now has 12 SMDs with four of them in the U Street corridor. SMD 02 added a huge number of people between 2000 and 2010 and was essentially split in two to form the new SMD 12.

  • Longtime incumbent Deborah Thomas (1B-04) is running unopposed. Jeremy Leffler is running for the redrawn 1B-02 seat and Marc Morgan is the sole candidate running for the 1B-01 seat now held by ANC 1B Chairpeson Myla Moss, who is retiring.
  • Of particular note is the four-way race for the new 1B12 SMD which was carved out of SMD 1B-02. The candidates are John Carlos Green, Zahra Jilani, Dan Wittels and Erling Bailey. This seat is currently held by Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling who won a special election late in 2011 after Commissioner Aaron Spencer resigned. Lewin-Zwerdling is not seeking a full term. The SMD includes the much discussed 14th and Wallach residential building and the JBG hotel-turned-apartment project on the Rite-Aid site at 13th and U Streets, NW.

Posted in Politics & Government2 Comments

Mayor Gray Dines at Hank’s Oyster Bar, Shows Support for Restaurant

"Mayor Vincent Gray and Jamie Leeds"

Mayor Vincent Gray and  Hank’s Oyster Bar Chef and owner Jamie Leeds on Thursday night. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tom Hay. Questions for Tom? Send him an email at Tom[AT]borderstan.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Tomonswann.

DC Mayor Vincent Gray had dinner at Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont Circle on Thursday night. The mayor’s visit to the popular restaurant at 1624 Q Street NW happened as the restaurant is embroiled in another chapter of a seven-year-long regulatory battle with a small group of neighborhood residents. Hank’s Chef and owner Jamie Leeds greeted the mayor who acknowledged Leeds’ latest challenge.

Leeds told Borderstan that she said to Gray, “I just want my patio back.” According to Leeds, the mayor shared her frustration that a small group of people could dictate how a business may operate, even in the face of so much popular support. Shortly after Leeds was forced to downsize her patio, an online petition was circulated in support of Leeds and quickly attained more than 1,800 signatures.

Hank’s Oyster Bar most recent roadblock occurred just before the start of the annual gay pride weekend — one of the busiest times for the outdoor cafe portion of the restaurant. Leeds was forced to close half of her cafe’s outdoor seating after a DC Court of Appeals decision ruled that the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC Board) had erred in its 2010 decision that allowed her to terminate the voluntary agreement (V.A.) she had signed before opening in 2005.

Among other things, the V.A. controlled the hours service and size of the outdoor cafe portion of the restaurant. The case was remanded to the ABC Board and a hearing took place last month. A ruling is expected in a few weeks.

While the drama of Hank’s unfolded over the past few weeks, DC Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) has introduced legislation that would overhaul many of DC’s alcohol licensing laws. Among the 43 amendments and additions proposed in the legislation is a change in how close neighbors must live to a business before they may have standing to protest a liquor license application. The legislation was introduced last month and a hearing is scheduled for July 12 at 11 am in room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building at 14th and Pennsylvania NW.

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Posted in Food & Drink, Politics & Government2 Comments