Dupont liquor problems spur talk of new limits
Amid concerns of a growing anti-community bias by the current Alcohol Beverage Control Board in its handling of liquor licenses in nite-life heavy neighborhoods, the Dupont Circle community is exploring the renewal and possible expansion of the existing freeze on new bars and restaurants in on the west side of Dupont Circle.
To gather community views, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B established an ad hoc committee of citizens, businesses and other commissioners on the moratorium. According to Robin Diener, president of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA), sentiment in the committee, even among business representatives, is to continue the moratorium. “To my surprise, the two business owners at the last meeting agreed with the residents on the positive value of continuing the moratorium,” she said.
Also, the ANC recently voted to ask the District’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) for a 60-day extension on the current moratorium expiring March 23 while community comment is solicited and weighed and the renewal application prepared.
The ad hoc committee is headed by Kevin O’Connor, one of the commissioners representing the moratorium area. He abstained from the ANC vote until further consultations with the committee as to whether to “continue, expand or get rid” of the moratorium.
The move to enlarge the moratorium arises from disorderly behaviors apparently emanating from current bars and restaurants at the crossroads of Florida and Connecticut Avenues. Noise and loitering connected to Russia House, at the northwest corner, were addressed with a voluntary agreement between the owners and the neighbors.
However, problems emanating from Maddy’s, at 1726 Connecticut Avenue, the former Timberlake’s, are fueling the discussion to expand the moratorium. Neighbors object to the trash, noise, fights and blocked access to the back alley, all attributed to Maddy’s. Neighbors have sought corrective action from various District agencies, including from ABRA and district police as well as from Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans’ office, but the problems continue.
Paul Zaiontz, the general manager of Maddy’s, contests the allegations. “We take a lot of pride in the way we run out business” he said. “We’ve done everything by the laws of the District.” He points to extra costs of 7-day-a-week trash collection, admonishing staff to be quiet and avoid the ally and only using I-tunes for music till 3 am (as permitted), rather than a live band. And he wonders why other nearby bars with loud, live bands and outside fights are not opposed.
The possible expansion would bring the 1700 blocks of Connecticut Avenue and 21st Street (i.e. between R and S Streets) into the existing moratorium area. “We want to prevent things from getting worse,” said Ruth Horn, a neighbor.
The Dupont West liquor license moratorium now runs from the west side of the Circle, down New Hampshire Avenue, west on N Street, north on 22nd Street and Florida Avenue, west on R, south on 21st, west on Hillyer Place, south on 20th Street and west on Massachusetts Avenue to the Circle.