From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.
The protest by Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B against the liquor license application of the aspiring proprietors of the Fainting Goat Tavern was rejected on March 21, according to public documents.
In a letter to ANC1B Commissioner Marc Morgan (ANC Secretary and commissioner for district 01), DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) said that the protest letter had been denied “because of failure to file a timely protest.”
No one from ANC1B appeared at the ABRA Roll Call hearing on March 25 to contest the denial. The purpose of Roll Call hearings is only to identify the parties that have standing as protestants. A separate hearing is scheduled for May 15 to discuss the substance of the protests.
ANC 1B Serves U Street Area
The Fainting Goat’s proposed location is 1330 U Street NW, the former location of Urban Essentials. A petition in support of the Fainting Goat’s liquor license application appeared on the web site Change.org on March 14. ANC1B voted to protest the application at a contentious March 7 meeting. Borderstan reported on March 18 that the ANC’s protest documents had apparently vanished on their way to ABRA.
1B-12 Commissioner Zahra Jilani in a March 22 email explained the circumstances which led to the impression that the documents had disappeared. She said, “I was told to send the letter on behalf of the commission, but that a text email was fine. I believe this was due to a miscommunication between our ANC and ABRA. I sent the letter the night before the deadline, but I was told the next day by ABRA that it was in the wrong format, which is why they told you they hadn’t received it. Once aware of this, I let the commission know and we sent it in the correct format to ABRA.”
Information on the ABRA website says that protests against liquor licenses can be faxed or emailed. All email protests must be sent as a PDF document and signed. These two methods are the only ways to officially file a protest with ABRA.
ANC1B may still appeal ABRA’s decision at the May 15 hearing. If they do, they must show “good cause” for missing the deadline to the ABC Board, according to ABRA records supervisor William Hager. He also said that, in the past, tardy petitioners had shown “good cause” in cases where inclement weather or government shutdown had occurred at petition deadlines. Hager would not speculate on whether ANC1B’s current circumstances might be considered “good cause”.
“Requests of this nature are entirely left to the discretion of the ABC Board,” Hager said in an email.
The Fainting Goat still must face two protesting groups at its May 15 hearing: the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance and a group of 14 residents, most of whom live on Wallach Place NW. However, if ANC 1B does not successfully appeal the rejection, the Fainting Goat may have a better chance at finally obtaining the liquor license. The law stipulates that ABRA must give “great weight” to an ANC opinion. Citizen group petitioners do not enjoy this level of influence.