by Borderstan.com June 13, 2013 at 8:00 am 8 Comments

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

"Compass Rose"

Compass Rose still fighting opposition at 1346 T Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Rose Previte and David Greene, aspiring proprietors of the bar/restaurant Compass Rose (1346 T Street NW), will try to take another slow painful step toward operation next Tuesday. That’s when the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) will hear the request of the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA) for a decision that will effectively prevent Compass Rose from opening.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street weighed in on the side of Compass Rose against the SDCA at its regular monthly meeting last Thursday, June 6. A motion by Commissioner Jeremy Leffler, 1B-02, to write a letter to the BZA supporting Compass Rose passed unanimously. Leffler is also the chair of ANC 1B’s liquor licensing affairs committee.

Previte and Greene announced their intention to open Compass Rose in January. They received the go-ahead for their liquor license in April in spite of resistance from the SDCA.

The SDCA is also the petitioner for a liquor license moratorium in the 14th and U Street area.

The story of the SDCA’s second front against Compass Rose is a complicated saga of the Uptown Arts-Mixed Use (ARTS) Overlay District, a zone created by the DC government in the hopes of encouraging development on the 14th and U Street corridors. This zoning overlay was supposed to limit the size and number of liquor licensees by limiting the frontage of liquor-licensees on any block to 50 percent.

The SDCA contends ANC1B and DC authorities have been deaf to its appeals to enforce the Overlay District, and more than one block in the area exceeds the 50 percent limit.

“The ANC has, on multiple occasions, discussed tools and other solutions to address the over concentration of liquor licenses (as opposed to a moratorium). When they had an opportunity to support the use of tools and solutions such as the enforcement of the ARTs Overlay, they refused to do so,” Sterling said in an email.

I am not a lawyer but, as far as I can tell from looking at the documents, there are two major points of contention. They are:

  • Is the ARTS Overlay District intended to apply only to businesses facing 14th Street, or does the district wrap around the corner of T Street? If the latter is the case, then Compass Rose, which will face T Street, will be subject to their restrictions.
  • Assuming the district wraps around to include T Street, does the total frontage of the area include more than 50 percent liquor licensees? In this case, there is a disagreement about whether the nearby Source Theater (1835 14th Street) is considered a liquor licensee for the purpose of frontage calculation. The Source Theater has a liquor license, but its primary use is not as an eating or drinking establishment, so DC authorities have ruled it should not count toward the frontage limit. The SDCA disagrees. If the Source Theater is not included in the frontage calculation, Compass Rose may open without exceeding the 50 percent limit.

“If the Board decides to deliberate, they would have 90 days to make a decision. We’ve already invested tens of thousands of dollars. As a tiny business, we watch every cent. Every day we are delayed and can’t open, it becomes harder. Three more months could be devastating,” Previte said in an email.

The public hearing concerning the SDCA’s petition will take place on Tuesday, June 18, at 1pm, at the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment, 441 4th Street NW.

Documents relating to the case can be viewed at the Interactive Zoning Information System of Office of Zoning by entering case number 18568 into the search bar.

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by Borderstan.com April 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm 5 Comments

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

ANC 1B Also says no to 14 and U Streets moratorium. (David McAuley)

ANC 1B joins ANCs 6E and 2F in opposing the proposed moratorium for the 14th and U area. (David McAuley)

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B officially joined the ranks of the opposition to the proposed U Street liquor license moratorium last night, April 4. The vote was 10-0. Commissioners Juan Lopez, 1B-07, and E. Gail Anderson Holness, 1B-11, were absent and did not vote. ANC 1B includes the U Street area.

ANC 1B is now the third ANC to vote against the moratorium. It joins ANC 6E, which voted in February, and ANC 2F, which unanimously condemned the moratorium in a strongly worded resolution the previous evening, April 3. The remaining ANC within the borders of the proposed moratorium, ANC 2B, plans to vote at its May 8 monthly meeting.

ANC 1B Commissioner Jeremy Leffler, 1B-02, placed the resolution to oppose the moratorium in front of the full ANC. Leffler is the chair of ANC 1B’s Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Committee. He told the commission that the text of the resolution was very similar to ANC 2F’s resolution of the previous evening.

The vote came about two-thirds of the way through a marathon four-hour meeting. It was attended by more than 60 members of the public, most of whom were especially interested in the outcome of the moratorium vote.

"moratorium"

SDCA’s proposed liquor license moratorium zone for 14th and U NW area.

Attempts to Delay Vote

The resolution weathered two attempts to delay the vote. This first was by Joan Sterling, President of the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA), during her presentation in support of the petition.

The SDCA has been the driving force behind the petition and the only group remaining with standing to officially present it to DC’s ABC Board at its May 22 hearing.

“I’m surprised we’re taking a vote today — there’s still time,” Sterling said.

The second attempt to delay the vote was by Commissioner Ricardo Reinoso, 1B-05. During the commission debate on the resolution, Reinoso proposed a motion to table the vote until the next ANC1B meeting in May. The motion died when there was no second from the commission.

Norman Questions SDCA’s Approach

After Sterling presented to the committee, Chair Tony Norman, 1B-10, questioned Sterling about the SDCA’s approach.

“Before you filed this, why didn’t you approach the commissioners?” Norman asked. “It would have been respectful to approach us before.”

Sterling said she was waiting for the petition to be accepted by the ABC Board.

“We don’t have to wait for acceptance from a board for neighbors to talk to each other,” Norman replied.

Local Opposition Cited

In a presentation about the March 20 townhall-style listening session on the moratorium, Commissioner Leffler noted that 135 people had signed in for the session. Of the listening-session speakers who identified themselves as 1B residents, he said 81 percent were opposed. In addition, Leffler said he had a petition signed by 87 1B residents against the moratorium. Finally, Leffler entered the online anti-moratorium petition from change.org into the record. This petition contained more than 1,200 signatures, Leffler said.

Presentation on Possible Zoning Law Changes

The vote on the moratorium was only a small part of ANC 1B’s marathon session. The evening started out with a presentation from the DC Office of Planning. This office is spearheading a major rewrite of DC zoning laws citywide. At the urging of ANC 1B Chair Norman, Deputy Director Joel Lawson’s presentation took only a fraction of the time that his boss, Director Harriet Tregoning, used to cover the same material at the previous evening’s ANC 2F meeting.

“This is the fastest I’ve ever given this presentation,” Lawson said.

Lawson noted two potential impacts of the zoning rewrite on the U Street area. The first was the creation of transit zones along the major thoroughfares of the district, including the Georgia Avenue, Florida Avenue, U Street and 14th Street corridors. New buildings in these zones would no longer be required to include parking spaces in their design and construction.

The second potential impact may be new rules facilitating the opening of corner stores in residential neighborhoods. Lawson mentioned the intersections of 13th and 11th Streets and Sherman Avenue with Harvard, Fairmont, Euclid and Clifton Streets as possible places that might benefit from this change in zoning rules.

Compass Rose Settlement Agreement Approved

Well into its third hour, ANC 1B heard presentations by aspiring liquor licensees in search of ANC endorsement. ANC 1B unanimously approved the settlement agreement for Compass Rose. This agreement was the subject of a lengthy discussion at the previous meeting of ANC1B’s ABC committee on April 2.

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by Borderstan.com April 4, 2013 at 8:00 am 3 Comments

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com.

"Compass Rose"

Rose Previte addresses the ANC 1B committee on Tuesday. (David McAuley)

Compass Rose, a restaurant aiming to operate at 1346 T Street NW, took an important step toward a liquor license on Tuesday evening, April 2. Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B‘s alcohol licensing affairs committee voted 10 to 4 to recommend a committee-drafted settlement agreement with Compass Rose to the full ANC, which serves the U Street area.

An agreement approved by the full ANC would help Compass Rose to plead its case for a liquor license before DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board. There was one abstention and one committee member absent.

ANC 1B’s next meeting will be tonight, Thursday, April 4, on the second floor of the Reeves Center, 2000 14th Street NW.

“As we all know, it’s renewal season,” said ABC Committee chair Jeremy Leffler, ANC 1B-02, at the beginning of the meeting. In addition to the Compass Rose settlement agreement, the committee had eight “must to discuss” applications for renewals of liquor licenses on its agenda.

Previte said some of the protesters told her they didn’t want Compass Rose to open, and had attempted to micromanage the business, including dictating what was to be on the menu.

However, owing to the long and contentious nature of the Compass Rose debate, the committee had only considered three before the caretaker of the Thurgood Marshall Center (1816 12th Street NW) said it was 9 p.m. and the building had to close. Leffler had to ask the other committee members to continue the meeting on the sidewalk outside the building.

The second speaker, SDCA Secretary Elwyn Ferris, said the main objection was concerning establishment’s operating hours. “We conceded the maximum hours, but we want them in the agreement,” Ferris said.

The Settlement Agreement

“I skipped work today to go over this line by line,” said committee member Zahra Jilani, ANC 1B-12, referring to the draft settlement agreement she presented to the committee. Jilani listed the details included in the agreement in an attempt to mollify the protesters, including:

  • Clean-up must be completed one hour after closing
  • No handbills
  • Interior soundproofing (“noise is one full page” of the agreement)
  • Applicant must consult a noise consultant
  • A full menu must be served until midnight
  • The installation of surveillance cameras

“We’re desperately trying to be a wonderful part of the community,” said Rose Previte, aspiring co-operator of Compass Rose with her husband, David Greene, at the start of the presentation. Previte said some of the protesters told her they didn’t want Compass Rose to open, and had attempted to micromanage the business, including dictating what was to be on the menu. Previte also mentioned the online petition in support of the liquor license launched at change.org, which has 250 signatures.

“We are residents as well as business owners,” said Previte. Greene later added that the couple plans to live over the business and raise their children there.

There were three groups protesting the application: the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance (SDCA), a group of 14 residents, and the owner of the neighboring property. The owner of the neighboring property, which contains the Cafe Saint Ex, did not appear at the meeting, so this protest was not considered.

Protesters Address Committee

The two remaining groups had an opportunity to present to the committee.

“I understand I don’t have the right to choose my neighbors,” said Erling Bailey, representing the group of 14 residents. “A place that sells alcohol affects our quality of life.” Bailey also said he was protesting the license because, during negotiations, the scope of the business changed: the proprietors had first claimed the business was going to be a restaurant, and then said it was a tavern.

The second speaker, SDCA Secretary Elwyn Ferris, said the main objection was concerning establishment’s operating hours. “We conceded the maximum hours, but we want them in the agreement,” Ferris said.

After much discussion, the crux of the problem seemed to be: if the operating hours are stated in the agreement, then licensees must seek written permission every time there is a special reason to keep their establishment open for a longer period, e.g., daylight savings time or Inauguration Day. If the hours are merely those stated by DC law, no additional written permission is necessary if the DC government agrees to extend operating hours for a special occasion. Neither side was willing to budge on this issue.

In the end, the agreement as written by Jilani was passed by the committee with small modifications. A motion by SDCA President Joan Sterling to amend the agreement to specifically state the hours of operations was rejected.

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by Borderstan.com March 21, 2013 at 10:30 am 9 Comments

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

"petition"

Compass Rose is coming to 1346 T Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Compass Rose, a global street food restaurant coming soon to 1346 T Street NW, launched an online petition to help with the process of obtaining a liquor license. As with several other restaurants and bars in the area, a few residents are protesting Compass Rose’s application. The owners include Rose Previte, David Greene and Pour House co-owner Mike Schuster.

“We need to show our local ANC [1B] that the voices of protest do not necessarily represent the community at large,” Previte says in the petition.

Previte explains that the restaurant is in the process of negotiating with the small group of protesters — she is trying to enter a voluntary agreement with the group to address all concerns about noise, crowds and parking.

“We have already made a number of concessions in the name of compromise, a better understanding of like businesses and a better understanding of the community’s concern with some of the things we applied for,” Previte said in an email.

“We originally asked to have music in our ‘summer garden,’ which is the backyard and on the patio. We have since agreed not to play any music outside. We’ve agreed to limitations on live entertainment inside. We have agreed to patio hours consistent with neighboring St. Ex. We have agreed to diligently monitor and control the noise coming from our establishment to ensure it does not affect our neighbors,” said Previte.

Previte explains that the purpose of the petition is to let  ANC 1B and community, in general, know that there are a number of supporters for Compass Rose and that the small group of protesters does not represent all the residents of ANC 1B.

The petition signatures will be presented to the full ANC at the meeting during the first week in April.

Compass Rose will feature global foods and drinks in the row house formerly occupied by Café Collage. This dishes will emphasize tastes and flavors that Previte and Greene experienced from several years of traveling.

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