Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Robert Brannum's statement regarding Boundary Stone's presentation and discussion last night

See this message from Bloomingdale Civic Association President Robert Brannum, following last night's civic association meeting, which included a presentation by Colin McdDonough, Gareth Croke and Matt Croke of Bloomingdale Hospitality LLC, a.k.a., Boundary Stone Public House, which was followed by at times passionate and at times heated discussion:

Dear Bloomingdale Neighbors,

On 1 June 2010, the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration will consider an application for a retail class ”C” tavern license for Bloomingdale Hospitality, LLC.

The owners, Colin McDonough, Matt and Gareth Croke, owners of Bloomingdale Hospitality, LLC, have gathered over 300 signatures on a petition in support of its application and held an open house for residents of the immediate area to receive an advance look at the facility.

According to the owners, “Bloomingdale Hospitality LLC is crafting a neighborhood establishment created to foster a warm, welcoming environment where people can gather to enjoy food, drink, and the simple pleasure of music and good company. It is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission. We support our community and embrace the powerful role that business has in environmental and social responsibility. We are resolute in our desire to achieve a
sustainable business and be a positive force in our community
.”

Tonight at the meeting of the Bloomingdale Civic Association, a special presentation was made to provide residents with an opportunity to learn more about the plans for Boundary Stone Public House. As with many community meetings, residents expressed their views with passion. While there were some concerns expressed regarding the impact within the immediate area of the Pub and discussion about establishing a voluntary agreement (or the need for one), there was not any vocal opposition to the opening of the Pub.

Tonight’s meeting was designed to provide ALL community residents an opportunity to be heard and to have questions answered. While a vote was not taken, residents will have another opportunity to express their support for the licensee at the next meeting
(Monday, 24 May 2010) of the Bloomingdale Civic Association. At that time, a vote by the Bloomingdale Civic Association can be taken to express the will of the broader community.

However, tonight, it is clear by the comments voiced; the owners have significant support for their business venture. Many Bloomingdale residents, in the past, have made known their desire for businesses of this nature in the community.

The Bloomingdale community is made of varying personalities, reflecting the diversity of the District of Columbia and America. Communities thrive best and help enhance the quality of life for all its residents with respectful conversations and willingness to hear from each other. It does not matter, whether one has resided in Bloomingdale for 30 years, 30 months, or 30 days; all of us want to live in peace and harmony with our neighbors.

As a growing community, Bloomingdale has an opportunity to show other District neighborhoods how people can live together as one united community.

Robert

Robert Vinson Brannum
President, Bloomingdale Civic Association

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P.S. From your blog moderator: If you are going to reply to this post, please do not do so anonymously. Thanks.

15 comments:

  1. Great news! I'm sorry I missed the meeting last night (had a work obligation) but I'm glad to hear that Gareth & co. were well received.

    I honestly cannot think of how they could have been more considerate, responsible, and inclusive in how they've gone about this. We're lucky to have such great (future) business owners in our wonderful neighborhood!

    --Nolan
    100 Block of V St NW

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  2. The text in red italics is 'code'.

    Anyone want to take a stab at deciphering the code?

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  3. I believe that a more comprehensive summary of last night's meeting is due to the residents of the community that were not in attendance. These are my own observations and are not based on minutes kept. (Please add to/correct this summary if you wish.)

    Before the presentation, Mr. Brannum informed residents that the group had not met that night in order to stop this business's development. He repeated the sentiment again before the speakers began.

    The Boundary Stone team presentation focused on the mission statement, the reasoning behind their wish for a community pub/restaurant, and the presenting of two petitions signed by supportive members of the community.

    The presentation was followed up by a question/answer/comment time. A few residents voiced their support, and there were a few questions. One association leader questioned the “tavern” license, as there is food on the tentative menu and the business was sometimes being referred to as a “bar/restaurant”. The Boundary Stone team replied that, yes, they were going to be spending quite a bit of money installing a kitchen, but that they would be pursuing a tavern license legally and would be following its requirements. A citizen later spoke to this issue, stating that the majority of food establishments in the city are licensed as taverns. While a Boundary Stone team member was answering another question later in the evening, they used the word “restaurant”, and the same association leader interrupted to state again that it is a “tavern”. Many residents stated their feeling that this was an unnecessary interruption at that time.

    During the discussion, the issue of a Voluntary Agreement was introduced. In essence, this agreement would be an addition to the licensing agreement, and may contain solutions to issues between the business and the residents about noise, hours, and any number of other things. (If I understand correctly) A group of a certain size and residential/residency requirement may group together to “protest” the business, and can vote to write up a Voluntary Agreement as a community association to be agreed upon by the business. One citizen, a restaurant owner, pointed out that Voluntary Agreements can have very damaging affects on businesses in regards to closing earlier and losing quite a bit of income, and may contribute to the business failing, so they are not to be taken lightly.

    to be continued-

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  4. continued from above-

    It was also pointed out at this time that many DC businesses have Voluntary Agreements with their surrounding communities. Another resident cited the details of the Baraki restaurant’s issues with the Voluntary Agreement, and was concerned with the seemingly secretive nature of the writing of the agreement by a group of citizens. At some point during the discussion, a resident asked whether we would take a vote as to whether the community wishes to write a Voluntary Agreement. The leaders of the association replied that we would not take a vote because residents still have time to protest the business’s licensing. We were informed that they have until May 17, 2010 to protest. The citizen who asked about the vote noted that it is understood that a protest could still be filed at a later date, but that a vote would serve to show community support for the business and that this is an allowed and adopted practice in other cases. It was stated by a resident that a supportive vote would be taken into consideration by the ANC and Alcohol Beverage Regulation Board in the future. Other residents then asked more questions to clarify the Voluntary Agreement issues and dates of further votes. The leaders repeatedly stated that we would not vote on anything that evening. One leader asked the Boundary Stone team whether they would sign a Voluntary Agreement, to which they replied that they would have to read it first, and that they have spoken to many neighbors surrounding the proposed business site and the issue had not been raised. A resident then made a motion to take a vote, and the motion was seconded. Mr. Brannum and leaders ignored the motion. Residents and leaders became quite aggravated, and Mr. Brannum called the meeting to a close.

    Many citizens at the meeting were ignored, interrupted, and shushed repeatedly by the leaders of the association, and many questions were never answered. Mr. Brannum was often smirking, laughing, and shaking his head while citizens spoke, and repeatedly raised his voice. While residents were asked not the interrupt, they were interrupted numerous times by the association leaders.

    It was stated last night that the next association meeting was scheduled for May 17, and a resident pointed out in frustration that the last day to file a protest is May 17.

    I appreciate the support for harmony in the community in Mr. Brannum's letter, but I did not see evidence of this commitment at last night’s meeting. I question his motives for highlighting in red some parts of his letter and how they pertain to the events of last night. Neighborhood associations of any sort naturally have disagreements all the time, but the events and actions by the leaders at last night’s meeting seemed contaminated and should be brought into question by the residents of Bloomingdale for fear that this business opportunity is lost before it has even had a chance to “bloom”.

    Lindsey, Bloomingdale Ct.

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  5. Lindsey-- There are errors and ommissions that create biases in your report. I would suggest that interested folks go to an authoritative source for info re liquor licensing and Voluntary Agreements -- such as the DCRA regs on liquor licenses. These are available on the web.

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  6. Ahem -- let's identify ourselves in our posts here.

    T h a n k y o u.

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  7. This was not a report (I am not a reporter of any kind). I very much agree that residents should read up and get educated, so I thank you for the suggestion!

    I'm a normal resident, a person who is lucky enough to own a home here. I do not know the Boundary Stone team from Adam, or I didn't before meeting them last night. Any bias you perceive is based on nothing more than what I observed and learned last night, and any additional observations will only serve to help us all understand what is happening in this situation. Please, speak up in detail and help us to understand.

    -Lindsey, Bloomingdale Ct.

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  8. Geez people can't we like support a business around here??? I mean it seems like common sense that having at least one restaurant around here would be a good idea!!/ David

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  9. Can you people speak more plainly for those of us not intimately involved?
    What is the coded language?
    Is the implication that branaum is against the bar and purposefully blocking it?
    What comments was he laughing and shaking his head at?

    br

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  10. ", there was not any vocal opposition to the opening of the Pub." =

    "There should be vocal opposition to the Pub. Don't take it for granted that others will speak in opposition for you."

    and

    " provide ALL community " =
    " provide the perspective of the non-white, non-gentrifying community"

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  11. I'd say that the "there was not any vocal opposition" was a little less coded than people are assuming. He had said that the BCA wasn't going to provide a statement of support since they wanted to leave the floor open to whoever would like to protest it. I spoke to him afterwards saying that they could at least be willing to say, "no one in the community has yet spoken up against this" to make it clear that the BCA isn't protesting it. I don't want to take credit for the statement, but in my opinion it is an honest attempt at my suggestion and I thank him for it.

    -David@S St NW

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  12. David; you're saying that BCA supports the project, but will not go on record as supporting the project because they want to leave room for others to protest the project? They will only go on record to state that "no one has yet protested the project"?, and that is a favorable endorsement of the project?

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  13. L.J. To be frank, I suspect the reality is more complicated. At least one BCA member was against Baraki's attempt at operating at full hours. So I suspect they'd be more understanding of opposition to Boundary Stone. But in my conversations, the President recognized that there was substantial support for this restaurant/tavern and was willing to default to supporting it unless a legitimate concern came up. I suspect that would have to come from people in close proximity to the site. So I don't think he'd jump on any petty challenge (for example, from people who are on the tail end of the 500 yard radius that qualifies people as "legitimate" objectors) as one worth backing.

    But this is just my perspective from my (somewhat lengthy) conversation with him after the meeting.

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  14. To begin, I was not at the meeting and am not a Bloomingdale resident. However, I do live in LeDroit Park, so this business will impact my life as well.

    From what I have read here and what I have heard, I am confused why a vote to support/not support the business was not taken. It seems that there were many people at the meeting had expected to take a vote on whether the BCA would issue a letter of support for the establishment (which we all know is very positive in terms of getting all the liquor licensing that is needed). As I understand it, the Civic Association's opinion is weighed heavily by the ANC, which has big decision-making in liquor licensing.

    Can someone from the BCA explain the procedural rules that prevented a vote from taking place? Usually, when a vote is called for, and seconded, it is taken. Does the BCA have a parliamentarian? If so, what is the official reason for no vote being taken?

    In addition, only PAID members of the BCA may vote - how is the BCA ensuring that all voters are in "good standing" with the BCA prior to voting?


    Maria - LeDroit Park

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