ANC 3F has a lot of clout in determining the kind of night life we have in Forest Hills. This is done through voluntary agreements for liquor licenses. ANC 3F Commissioner Adam Tope explains the process.
by Adam Tope
ANC 3F Commissioner
When a new restaurant or bar seeks to get a liquor license or seeks to make a substantial change to their existing liquor license (such as significantly expanding the seating or size of the establishment), area residents, the ANC and other community groups may protest a license.
When a license is protested, these groups contact ABRA, the DC entity in charge of liquor licenses, to list the reasons why they believe the license will impact the “peace, order and quiet” of the neighborhood. If a license is protested, ABRA holds a protest hearing for the parties to discuss their concerns.
Often, prior to the protest hearing, the groups protesting the license may enter into an agreement with the establishment called a “Voluntary Agreement.” A Voluntary Agreement can govern many items related to the operation of an establishment.
If the Voluntary Agreement is approved by ABRA, it becomes part of the license.
With respect to ANC 3F, as a matter of practice, the ANC seeks to enter into a Voluntary Agreement with the owner of any liquor license in our ANC. Typically, the process begins when the ANC receives notice from ABRA that a new liquor license has been applied for in the ANC. At that point, the Commissioner whose district covers the applicant’s store reaches out to the business owner (unless the savvy business owner has already contacted the ANC) to enter into a Voluntary Agreement.
ANC 3F has a general form of Voluntary Agreement which governs the items described above, though each Voluntary Agreement is tailored for each establishment as needed. Often, depending on feedback from the community, certain restrictions may be negotiated into the Voluntary Agreement, such as limitations on noise, such as limiting an establishment from having bands and other amplified music.
Voluntary Agreements help the ANC ensure that owners of establishments holding a liquor license care for their property, care for surrounding property and run their businesses within the bounds of what the community expects from such establishments. Voluntary Agreements are a powerful tool used across the District by every ANC and other community organizations.
A copy of all Voluntary Agreements in ANC 3F are available on ANC 3F’s web site.