Shaw ANC Votes to Protest Dacha Expansion
(Updated at 3:41 p.m. to correct name misspellings, add additional statements from Dacha, and accurately reflect the ANC voting process)
Shaw beer garden Dacha has hit a roadblock in its proposed 600-person capacity expansion.
The 6E Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) voted to protest Dacha Beer Garden’s request for an expanded liquor license and capacity during its monthly meeting at Shaw Library last night.
In March, Dacha asked the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to allow it to expand its capacity to 600 people, up from its current capacity of 126.
The 3 to 2 vote — commissioner Alfreda Judd abstained — came after one of Dacha’s litigation attorneys, Scott Rome, and deputy general manager Nina Liggett gave a presentation to the packed basement room in Shaw Library.
Rome said Dacha is facing nine incident reports — eight for capacity violations — but emphasized the lengths co-owners Ilya Alter and Dmitri Chekaldin have taken to soundproof walls and reinforce fences.
“Even if we consider your application, how in the world are we going to have any control since you don’t obey what you are allowed to have now?” 6E05 Commissioner Marge Maceda responded. “How can we assume that you’re going to stick within the limits that you are able to have if we increase it?”
Both Rome and Liggett proposed that Dacha would build another fence and increase wall insulation for soundproofing if the 600-person capacity request was approved.
Some Shaw residents who showed up to the meeting publicly expressed concerns about what the increased capacity might mean for the neighborhood.
Katie Peters and husband Brian said that even though they support Dacha’s sound abatement efforts, the noise level already disturbs their sleeping infant and toddler and will only get worse if capacity increases.
But 7th Street NW resident David Abensour was not convinced the nightly noise comes from Dacha.
“My window is literally between Dacha and Uptown and I can tell you after midnight the noise doesn’t come from Dacha,” Abensour said.
Liggett said today by phone that she believes more than 50 people came out to support the beer garden, and that she wanted to address the commissioners’ concerns after the meeting, but was not able to due to time constraints.
“We wanted to give time for the community to talk,” Liggett says. “Unfortunately, I did not get to deliver a rebuttal at the end [because the library was closing].”
After hearing a long list of community comments — with several still in line to speak — 6E01 Commissioner Alexander Padro motioned to vote on the standing protest Dacha received from the commission’s ABC subcommittee last Thursday.
While Padro unwavered in his opposition, some anticipated upsetting their constituents.
“No one who represents a group of people wants to anger any segment of that group,” said 6E02 Commissioner Kevin Chapple. “But sometimes you have to.”
The council voted against Dacha’s proposed expansion by a vote of 3 to 2.
After the vote, Rome announced that Dacha would like to keep discussions between the business and residents open.
Rome also requested 6E ANC appoint a representative to work with Dacha when it comes to neighborhood issues and future expansion. He pointed out that Commissioner Padro repeatedly declined to speak with Dacha, to which Padro said he refused because Dacha would not work with the area’s civic association.
“We hope to move forward,” Liggett told Borderstan today. “Our ABRA hearings are coming up. We’ll prove our side. We take decibel readings every night and we are well below what is D.C. law,” she said.
The ANC has until Aug. 3 to file a formal protest against Dacha’s application.
Mural photo via Facebook.com/DachaBeerGarden