Harsh Reaction to ANC 6B Support for Harvest Tide Live Music

231

The February 15 meeting of Advisory neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B began with a moment of silence and ended with a resolution. Both honored Robert Cunningham, the 64-year-old WMATA employee who gave his life to protect others from a shooter at Potomac Metro Station on Feb. 1.

Appearing at the meeting were the following: Frank Avery (6B01, Treasurer); Jerry Sroufe (6B02), David Sobelsohn (6B03, Secretary); Frank D’Andrea (6B04); Kasie Durkit (6B05, Parliamentarian); Chander Jayaraman (6B06, Vice Chair); Vince Mareino (6B07); Edward Ryder (6B08, Chair); Matt LaFortune (6B09).

The ANC voted to request that the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) reconsider an order to dismiss a neighbor protest against an application for a substantial change from Harvest Tide Steak House. The application seeks to expand licensing to include live music. At their January 10 meeting, the ANC voted to send a letter in support of the application, located in the Single Member District (SMD) of Gerald Jerry Sroufe (6B02), with an amended settlement agreement (SA).

However, at the February meeting a group of nearby residents their extreme displeasure with the ANC decision and with the insufficient notice they said was provided for the meeting. They have serious complaints about trash and parking connected to Harvest Tide, they said, arguing that Sroufe should have informed them and should have realized that neighbors had issues with the business.

A protest had been filed in January by a group of neighbors living across the alley between Seventh and Eighth Streets SE. ANC Alcohol Beverage Committee (ABC) Chair Chander Jayaraman (6B06) said that legally, once ABRA has received the ANC letter in support of the Harvest Tide application, ABRA had to disregard all other filed protests from any party except any abutting neighbors. But, said Jayaraman, the neighbors present are not considered abutting by ABRA as their property lines are not technically shared with the establishment, which is across the alley.

A motion from Commissioner David Sobelsohn (6B03) to reconsider the January ANC approval failed in a tie vote. In the end, ANC 6B voted unanimously to urge ABRA to give the neighbors’ complaints serious consideration and also to warn Harvest Tide it has thirty days to show they have satisfied their previous commitments made in the SA with the ANC.

Public Safety Report

The ANC heard a public-safety presentation from Captain Kevin Harding of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) First District. Harding said that due to community feedback, MPD First District Commander Tasha Bryant has suspended plans for operational changes at its Substation (500 E St. SE). The level of service, patrol coverage and procedure will not change at the substation, he said.

Rumors had circulated in the week prior that the First District Substation would be closed. However, the Captain clarified that the proposed change had been merely organizational to facilitate the better use of resources and personnel, noting that the First District was “down” about 110 officers. Harding reported that First District crime is down 3 percent versus a year ago. However, he said that property crime has increased largely due to a surge in car thefts. Still, Harding said, for the most part, year to date, the first district “isn’t doing bad.”

MPD Lieutenant Joy Lee reported on two programs to protect public school students, including both the violence interrupters and the Safe Passage program. Although Capitol Hill schools are included in the program, none of the seven Safe Passage “priority areas,” are currently on the Hill. Lieutenant Lee recommended lobbying Hillary Desir, Special Projects Manager at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME).

Digging Down on G Street

The ANC again considered a Historic Preservation request for substantial renovations to a townhouse at 647 G St. SE for a new three-story rear addition, supporting the application by a vote of 7-2. The application was originally considered at the December 2022 meeting of ANC 6B, which voted to protest the application unless changes were made to the front windows and front stairway of the project. In their letter on the application, the Capitol Hill Restoration Society’s Historic (CHRS) Preservation Committee opposed these renovations, saying they are “not compatible with the Capitol Hill Historic District.”

There was also some concern directed by attendees at both the December and February meetings toward the work on the interior of the building, which includes plans to dig a sub-basement.

At the February meeting, where new window and stair configurations were presented, the owner said that he was surprised at the continuing concern around changes to the interior, which he said is not a historic consideration. He said the interior has been entirely replaced except for some original joists, which he promised to do his best to preserve. Concern seemed to be focused on the decision to dig down, the precedent set by approving such an application and the effect of excavation on the neighboring homes. At the meeting, commissioners said that while some people were describing the desire to dig down as an effort to “grab an extra buck,” it could just as well be described as an effort to house one more family. Others noted that concerns about excavation have to do with construction rather than historic preservation and called for the commission to focus on matters of historic preservation.

The next meeting of ANC 6B is 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 14. Find details on committee meetings and how to attend online at anc6b.org.