Minutes - Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B  - April 26, 2010 Public Meeting

Adopted on June 28, 2010


The meeting began at about 7:20 p.m. at the 4th District Metropolitan Police Department, 6001 Georgia Avenue, NW, Chair Yvonne Jefferson (4B08) presiding.


Also present were Commissioners 4B01 Sara Green, 4B02 Faith Wheeler, 4B03 Monique Michelle Smith, 4B04 James Sydnor, 4B05 Brenda Speaks, 4B06 Idriys Abdullah, 4B07 Judi Jones and 4B09 Doug Sloan. A quorum was present for all votes.



1.  The agenda was adopted, with several changes, in a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Wheeler.  The After School Enrichment Program grant proposal will be discussed at the May meeting.  The Coolidge High School Newsletter grant proposal discussion is postponed.  The Takoma Education Center grant proposal is withdrawn.


2.   In a 7-1-0 roll call vote following a motion made by Commissioner Green, the Commission agreed to become a party to an amended Voluntary Agreement with Atsede Corporation, the corporate owner of the Nile Restaurant and Market, located at 7815 Georgia Avenue, NW. 


Voting "yes" were Commissioners Green, Wheeler, Sydnor, Speaks, Abdullah, Jones, and Jefferson.  Commissioner Smith voted "no."


3.  In a 7-1-0 roll call vote following a motion made by Commissioner Jones, the Commission voted on the following resolution:


"ANC 4B is in support of the Nile Restaurant extending its hours until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday to include the sale of alcohol and dancing."


Voting "yes" were Commissioners Wheeler, Smith, Sydnor, Speaks, Abdullah, Jones, and Jefferson.  Commissioner Green voted "no."


The votes followed a lengthy discussion with Nile Restaurant Owner Mr. Retta Makonnen, Commissioners, several residents, and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner 4A Chair Stephen Whatley.  ANC 4A, an affected ANC, is also a signatory to the voluntary agreement.  The restaurant is within ANC 4B01.  It has a CR "Restaurant" license.


Among other things, the new agreement permits some live entertainment. Also, the new hours of operation are 10 am to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, with alcohol to be sold until Midnight. On Sunday through Thursday the hours would be from 10 a.m. to Midnight, with alcohol to be sold until 11:30 p.m.


4A Chair Whatley said that the restaurant is a good one and there have been no problems with the police. He said that the agreement might be amended in about six months to extend the restaurant's hours.


Commissioner Green said that the community negotiated with Mr. Makonnen for several months and there were compromises on both sides.  There is a concern that with a 2 a.m. closing and with dancing and live entertainment, the restaurant will effectively

become a nightclub, something the community does not want, she said, adding that other restaurants within ANC 4B01 will likely ask for the same provisions.


Also, the hours and conditions run with the restaurant, even if it sold. The community cannot be sure that a future owner will run a responsible business, she said.


Mr. Makonnen said he did agree to the terms of the new agreement and signed it, but would prefer operating until 2 a.m.  All of the Ethiopian Restaurants in nearby Silver Spring are open later and that puts the Nile at a disadvantage, he said. Commissioner Smith asked Mr. Makonnen if he might move to Silver Spring because he cannot stay open until 2 a.m.  That could happen, Mr. Makonnen said.


Several residents, including Mr. Carleton Davis, of the Brightwood Business Alliance, and Michael Sindram, a 4B02 resident, said the Commission should do everything it can to help a D.C. business and should not restrict it. 


Several Commissioners, including Commissioners Abdullah, Smith and Sydnor, agreed.  Commissioner Abdullah said that dancing should be permitted because it is an important part of the Ethiopian culture. 


4.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Sydnor, the Commission agreed to fund a $600 grant to the Main Street Takoma Design Committee of the Old Takoma Business Association to be used for plants for the Triangle Park and other places along the 4th Street commercial corridor. The Commission included one condition -- that it receive written approval from the Office of D.C. Auditor.


Commissioner Wheeler noted concerns that some of the plants had already been purchased and planted. However, that does not violate city regulations, she said.


Chair Jefferson noted that a copy of the grant application was sent to both Mr. Gottlieb Simon, of the Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, and Mr. Lynard Barnum, of the D.C. Auditor's Office.  Both sent emails concluding that the grant complies with City regulations, Chair Jefferson said.


5.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion made by Commissioner Speaks, the Commission voted to approve the February 22 and March 22, 2010 minutes, with two corrections requested by Commissioner Jones.  On page five of the February minutes, the third sentence of bullet point number three will read, "One of the homes will be demolished, she said."  Also, on the same page, Gloria Mobley will be identified as a resident of 4B07.



Commissioner Idriys Abdullah, who is also the Consumer Protection Advocate for the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB), discussed DISB's role in regulating city businesses and protecting consumers.  He distributed materials about the agency.


Community Concerns

1. Mr. Paul Montague said that residents cleaned up trash at a public space near Coolidge High School after city crews working nearby refused to do so.  He distributed photographs. He said ANC 4B owes the Xerox Corporation $998,000.


2.  Mr. Michael Sindram, of ANC 4B02, said he was treated with disrespect during the April meeting.  He also said that Famous Pawn, a business looking to locate within ANC 4B01, is an honestly run business. He repeated remarks made at many other meetings about a grant request. He also said Safeway's recycling practices violate city regulations.


3.  Ms. Sandy Eyster, of Underwood Street, NW, said noise from the machinery in the food storage trailers on the Safeway parking lot routinely wake her up as early as 5:45 a.m. She said she has measured the noise levels at 80 decibels, above the legal limits.


4.  Betty Florence said she is interested in putting senior housing on the Walter Reed site.  She also said she is concerned about possible environmental and public health problems from the barbecue business operating at the old Curtis Chevrolet parking lot at Peabody Street and Georgia Avenue, NW.  Trash is accumulating there, she said.


5.  Jessica Quarant, a 4B01 resident and a member of the group, Save Our Safety Net, said the group is campaigning to preserve child welfare and other programs in the DC budget for DC's most vulnerable residents. The group also advocates additional taxes for those making $200,000 or more.


Commission Reports

1. Commissioner Sloan reported that other Commissions are adopting resolutions in support of changing the city's new parking regulations that are similar to 4B's resolution.


2.  Commissioner Green reported on the emergency and temporary legislation adopted by the D.C. City Council to regulate pawnshops and give ANCs "great weight" in the issuance of pawnbroker licenses.


3.  Draft Reports and back-up documents for the Quarterly Report for January through March 2010 were distributed to every Commissioner.  They were asked to review the documents for a vote in May and to save the packets so more would not have to be photocopied.


4.  ANC 4A Chair Stephen Whatley said he is repeating requests that City officials review 4A's proposals to save money by reducing fraud, waste and abuse.  He said he wants to organize a forum on tax issues.


The meeting adjourned at about 9:30 p.m.


--- Submitted by Sara Green, Secretary