Adopted Minutes - Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B

July 26, 2010 Public Meeting

 

The meeting started at 7 pm at MPD's 4th District Community Room, 6001 Georgia Ave., NW, Chair Yvonne Jefferson (also ANC 4B08) presiding. Also present were Commissioners 4B01 Sara Green, 4B02 Faith Wheeler, 4B04 James Sydnor, 4B05 Brenda Speaks, 4B06 Idriys Abdullah, 4B07 Judi Jones and 4B09 Douglass Sloan.  A quorum was present for all votes.

 

Actions:

1.  In a 3-2-2 roll-call vote following a motion from Commissioner Green, the agenda was adopted, with one change. The medical marijuana agenda item is to be limited to a discussion, not a vote.  Commissioners Jefferson, Wheeler and Green voted "yes" to adopting the amended agenda. Commissioners Jones and Abdullah voted "no."  Commissioners Speaks and Sydnor abstained.

 

The vote followed a discussion.  Commissioners Green and Wheeler said a vote on a proposal from Jeffrey and Stephanie Kahn to operate a medical marijuana dispensary at 6925 4th St., NW is premature because the Congress has not approved DC's legislation, no regulations have been written, no applications are being taken, and the proposal is unofficial and lacks many details.

 

Commissioner Jones disagreed.  She said many key details were provided. The word "proposal" is on the front cover of Kahns' document. Therefore, a vote is appropriate.  The Commission can vote on the proposal a second time, if necessary, after an application is filed, she said.

 

2.  Following a motion from Commissioner Abdullah and in a unanimous show-of-hands vote, the Commission approved the 3rd Quarterly Report (April, May and June) for 2010.   The opening balance in the checking account was $37,826.60 and receipts totaled $6,370.06.  Available funds in the checking account totaled $44,196.70. Disbursements totaled $8,843.60. The ending balance in the checking account was $35,353.13.

 

3.  Following a motion from Commissioner Sloan and in a 7-1-0 show-of-hands vote, the Commission approved the minutes from the June 22 and June 28, 2010 public meetings.

 

4.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Sydnor, the Commission voted to support renewing the alcoholic beverage license for El Tamarindo Restaurant, 7331 Georgia Ave., NW.

 

The adopted resolution:

"Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B supports the renewal of the alcoholic beverage license for El Tamarindo Restaurant, 7331 Georgia Ave., NW (License No. 77994).

 

Commissioner 4B01 Sara Green is authorized to represent the Commission with respect to this resolution."

 

The vote followed a lengthy discussion with Martha Jenkins, the General Counsel for the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), Attorney and 4B01 Resident Sam Sharpe, other residents, and Sam Hailu, the son of the restaurant's new owner.

 

Ms. Jenkins said ABRA and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) made several mistakes with the case that necessitated posting three different placards at the restaurant over a period of months. 

 

In 2009 the D.C. Court of Appeals effectively reversed the Board's 2008 decision with respect to requested changes in the license. In that 2008 decision the Board extended the restaurant's hours and permitted it to offer live entertainment. However, the 2009 Court order effectively reversed the Board's 2008 decision, and the restaurant's correct hours should have been noted on the license and the license renewal documents as 11 am to Midnight, seven days a week.  Unfortunately, ABRA waited until June 2010, about eight months, to comply with the Court order, Ms. Jenkins said.

 

She said the new owners can apply for a substantial change to operate after midnight, open for breakfast, and offer live entertainment.

 

Mr. Hailu said his mother purchased the restaurant thinking she could operate until 2:30 am on some nights and offer live entertainment. They will apply for changes. A Midnight closing has forced the cancellation of several private parties, he said.

 

Mr. Sharpe and Robert Maxwell, a 4B01 resident, said they wanted to be sure that the new owners comply with the law and get the license transferred to them as is required. Ms. Jenkins said the transfer has not taken place, but Ms. Alganesh Kidan, the new owner, can serve alcohol because she has a manager's license.

 

5. In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Green that included a friendly amendment from Commissioner Sydnor, the Commission adopted a motion asking the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for information about 7306 Blair Rd., NW.

 

The adopted resolution:

"Pursuant to the District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), D.C. Official Code 2-531 et seq. (2001 ed.), Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B requests access to and/or copies of the case files(s) and other information regarding 7306 Blair Road as it relates to allegations of illegal activity regarding the repairs and sales of cars at said property.  This request is being made to the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and to any other D.C. government entity involved with this property.

 

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner 4B01 Sara Green is authorized to request this information on behalf of the Commission, pursuant to the provisions of the Act."

 

The vote followed a brief discussion. Commissioner Green explained that DCRA will not release documents without a FOIA request. FOIA fees can be significant, but ABRA cannot charge ANCs.

 

6.  In a unanimous show-of-hands vote following a motion from Commissioner Wheeler that included friendly amendments from several Commissioners, the Commission adopted a resolution asking the DC Department of Parks and Recreation for notification of potentially noisy park events.

 

The adopted resolution:

"ANC 4B requests that the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) notify ANC 4B and the corresponding Commissioner(s) upon approval of a DPR application for an event with amplified music out of doors in one of their parks."

 

Commissioner Wheeler said there was a recent and very noisy event at Takoma Recreation Center that disturbed neighbors.  Neither she nor the neighbors had any advance notice, she said.

 

Discussions and Presentations

1. Sgt. Edward Butler, of MPD's 4th District, discussed recent crime statistics and techniques for preventing car thefts, robberies and other crimes, and answered questions.

 

2.  Captain Carooq Taylor, of the 4th Battalion of the DC Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, discussed the Department's program to check fire hydrants. He said the DC Water and Sewer Authority is now testing hydrants with the assistance of a Department representative.

 

3. Medical Marijuana

There was a lengthy discussion on the pros and cons of operating a medical marijuana dispensary at 6925 4th St., NW. The site is within Commissioner Jones' Single Member District, 4B07.  She said the site is a poor choice because it is close to areas where illegal drugs are sold and is adjacent to a liquor store. She said a teenager said the dispensary would attract teens who want the drug illegally. A Georgia Avenue methadone clinic attracted illegal drug sales, she added.  She read a draft resolution opposing the proposal.

 

Commissioner Abdullah said he is not opposed to medical marijuana but is opposed to a store in ANC 4B, particularly if ANC 4B is a test site.  He said he would like to see the first DC dispensaries in the wealthier neighborhoods, including Ward 3. Both he and Commissioner Jefferson said they want to hold several public meetings on the issue.

 

Commissioner Wheeler said DC's experience will be very different from California's, where hundreds of dispensaries opened without regulation. The DC City Council held hearings and two readings of the bill before adopting legislation designed to prevent repeating other states' mistakes. A majority of 4B02 residents support the dispensary, which would locate across the street from 4B02, she said.

 

Michael Sindram, of Georgia Avenue, opposes the dispensary and quoted a newspaper article about California's problems. Regina Page, of ANC 4B01, said she does not understand why there is enthusiasm for a medical marijuana dispensary when ANC 4B

Commissioners were not enthusiastic about a proposal for a renal dialysis clinic in the neighborhood.  Mr. Silver, an area resident, said he does not want a dispensary here, and another man said medical marijuana should be sold in drug stores. Deluia Lewis, of 4B09, said she does not like the California system and fears DC will heavily tax medical marijuana.

 

Cathy Boris-Hale, a nurse who lives on Peabody Street, NW, said a dispensary is similar to a chemotherapy clinic. Neither is suitable for a drug store. Loretta Neumann, of Piney Branch Rd., NW, said she lives about two blocks from the site and supports it. Riqua Hriqua-Hailes, of Jonquil St., NW, said the community should consider the economic benefits a dispensary could bring.  Jeffrey Kahn said most people are judging his proposal without the facts.

 

4.  Request To Fund The Lamond Community Day Program

Commissioner Jones said she wants to spend about $2,000 to cover some costs for Lamond Community Day, including plaques and awards, but the community was not submitting a grant, as was done in the past. She asked that the Commission designate the $2,000 as an ANC 4B activity, not a grant, and she cited emails from Gottlieb Simon, of the Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, and Lynard Barnum, of the DC Auditor's Office, that explained that this is possible.

                                                                                                                             

Commissioner Green pointed out that Commissioner Jones had not submitted anything in writing detailing the expenditure. The Commission needs to be very careful about how it spends taxpayer monies and how it documents expenditures. Commissioners should have received a detailed written proposal well before the meeting, she said.

 

Commissioner Wheeler said she would support Commissioner Jones' request if Commissioner Jones provided a handwritten document with specific cost estimates and other details before the meeting adjourned. Commissioner Jones did not provide the information at the meeting. No expenditure was approved.

 

Community Concerns

1.  Michael Sindram, of Georgia Avenue, said he faces foreclosure.  He said he has written the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking several times for help, without a response. He also repeated requests that ANC 4B give a grant to a group installing digital television converters.

 

2.  Paul Montague, of 4B02, said he wants to see Quarterly Reports before the Commission votes. Regina Page, of 4B01, agreed.  Chair Jefferson went to the 4th District MPD offices in the building, photocopied the summary page, and made copies available at the meeting. Commissioner Jones gave Mr. Montague her copy of both the summary and the back-up documents.

 

3.  Elaine Ellis, of the Community Health Partnership (CHP), said she would like a letter of support from ANC 4B to help her secure space for CHP's first two public information health kiosks. These are now planned for the Riggs LaSalle Recreation Center and the Fort Stevens Senior Citizens Center.  CHP held a health fair with free screenings, exams, and meals that drew 500 people.                                                                       

 

Michael Sindram, of Georgia Avenue, criticized ANC 4B for giving CHP $900 for a printer. Its offices are at Nativity Church in ANC 4A, he said.  Treasurer Sloan said the grant is OK because it benefits ANC 4B residents.

 

4.  Leah Stiegler, of the volunteer group, Weatherize DC, said her group is training residents for jobs installing energy-saving devices and is providing these devices to DC residents.

 

The meeting adjourned at about 9:30 p.m. -- Submitted by Sara Green, Secretary