ANC 6B Report - October 2014

Proposed Expansion of the Ugly Mug

ANC 6B commissioners voted 6-0-2 to protest the Ugly Mug’s application for a substantial change to its liquor license, saying that the bar’s struggles to uphold its existing settlement agreement are reason to deny it additional seating and service capacity.

The Ugly Mug wants to add a second story to its existing building. While the bar doesn’t need a variance to begin construction, it could not operate on the new upstairs floor without approval from ABRA. The second floor would have a capacity of 95 people, bringing total allowed capacity to 198 when you count its outdoor patio.

Before 6B’s October 9th Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee meeting, 6B03 commissioner Phil Piesch worked with Ugly Mug owner Gaynor Jablonski to reach a working settlement agreement. Among the stipulations in Piesch’s proposal were that the Ugly Mug store its trash indoors; that the upstairs close no later than 10:30 Sunday through Thursday and midnight on weekends; that the top floor not host bands or DJs and could only play background music; that the bar store kegs inside; that the bar get trash and recycling picked up twice per week; and that the bar power wash its dumpster area twice per month. 

At the ABC meeting, Jablonski explained that he could comply with the hours, music, trash collection, power washing, and keg requests. Indoor trash storage, however, would be a problem: the building was built in two phases that would require digging up much of the kitchen to accommodate trash storage, a project Jablonski’s architects said would cost almost as much as the building addition itself. 

After the meeting on the 9th and before the ANC’s regular meeting on the 14th, neighbors expressed a lot of concern over Ugly Mug’s expansion. Many of those same neighbors attended the regular meeting to complain about the Ugly Mug in its existing state. They spoke of odor and noise coming from the building and asked commissioners to consider photos from behind the Ugly Mug that included open dumpsters, rat feces, debris, glass, and kegs being stored outside. Linda Elliot, a resident who also led the concern over &Pizza moving in on Barracks Row, stressed that the pictures were taken after the ABC Committee meeting, suggesting that even with his application on the line, Jablonski had not brought his building up to standards. 

Commissioners agreed that Jablonski is not currently meeting the threshold for being a good neighbor and asked him how he could possibly handle issues like rats—a huge problem along Barracks Row— after doubling in size when he clearly has too much on his plate already. 

In looking at how the &Pizza case played out (residents and &Pizza ownership went back and forth before the ANC for months until the restaurant was finally approved after making a number of concessions) it’s plausible to think Jablonski will delay his application, up his compliance efforts, and continue working to get the second story approved.

Yes Organic Market

At the October 9th ABC Committee meeting, commissioners reached a new settlement agreement with Yes Organic Market (410 Eighth Street SE) at its October 9th ABC Committee meeting. Or, at least, they thought they did…

Yes’ owner arrived at the ANC meeting with a signed copy of his 2012 agreement, saying that the new one’s strict requirements for trash and snow removal put him at risk should employees call in sick or a storm prevent him from getting into work. He said Yes didn’t need such a rigid agreement, noting that the store’s Brookland location is very well-maintained despite having no settlement agreement at all.

Commissioners weren’t having it. Simply put, they said, settlement agreements have worked well for ensuring 6B’s merchants meet a high standard, and a business needs to sign one if they want the ANC’s support for a liquor license. The commission then voted 7-0-1 to protest Yes’ current application for a license renewal. ABRA is likely to send the case to mediation, which will give Yes and the ANC time to reach an agreement.

Interest in Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club Building

The Department of General Services is now accepting Requests for Proposals for the Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club building at 261 17th Street SE. Representatives from Dante’s Partners Firm and the National Center for Victims of Crime both attended the ANC meeting to briefly present their proposals and ask for community input. Each plan included senior living facilities, which the Eastern Branch Task Force specifically requested back in February.

11th Street Bridge Project Completion, Southeast Freeway Reopening

Jon Whitney, a representative from the District Department of Transportation, says that the 11th Street Bridge project is nearly complete—11th Street SE is paved and the turn lane at 11th and M SE will be finished in November. Accordingly, DDOT expects to connect Barney Circle to 11th Street by reopening the Southeast Freeway by 2014’s end.

Though it is only meant to be temporary until the Southwest Boulevard (a lower-speed, more pedestrian-friendly roadway that will provide access to the waterfront) opens, the freeway’s reopening is controversial. Commissioners and residents alike are concerned that the reopening will undermine and sidetrack current studies on how to build the Boulevard.

New Apartments at 1333 M Street SE Should Benefit Hill Residents

Developer Eric Siegel of the Cohen Companies and Cohen Siegel Investors has proposed an apartment complex at 1333 M Street SE. The project will be a Planned Unit Development, meaning it will receive some zoning relief in exchange for providing amenities and benefits to its neighborhood. Commissioners have asked Siegel to build more affordable housing than the city’s inclusionary zoning laws require, and many PUDs also provide extra bike racks, benches, and street clean up.

Tony Ford and Steve Ricks of the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association, which includes boathouses that have been in DC for over 100 years and that are located near 1333 M Street, attended the ANC meeting to speak about their part in the area’s development. They said they’re working on a business plan to redevelop and possibly move marinas both for functionality and for better access to the community.

DC Circulator Transit Development Plan Update

6B Commissioners voted unanimously to send a letter to DDOT in support of the Union Station-Navy Yard extension of the Circulator. The letter praises the Circulator’s potential to connect Capitol Hill to the Waterfront and notes that the new line will accommodate students from both neighborhoods who, under DC Public Schools’ new boundary system, will attend Jefferson Middle School. 

The letter also voices concerns relating to service being unreliable, a lack of weekend service, and the accuracy of ridership counts. 

Red Light Camera Request at Pennsylvania and 7th Street 

Residents have been asking the police department for a red light camera at the intersection of Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Ave SE for nearly two years. While the department has agreed that the intersection is hazardous, it has yet to commit to actually installing a camera. 

6B Commissioners voted unanimously to send a letter urging the department to install a camera at the intersection as well as urging the department to make its process for handling installation requests more efficient.

Next Meeting: ANC 6B typically meets on the second Tuesday of the month, but since that falls on Veteran’s Day in November, the next regular meeting will be on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m. at the Hill Center.

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