ANC settlement looks to quell neighborhood complaints about FoBoGro

Media Credit: Ho Joon Kim | Hatchet Photographer

At the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting last month, the commission agreed to an outline of a settlement with FoBoGro meant to resolve neighborhood concerns.

A local neighborhood group and grocery store have come to an agreement to end a months-long dispute about the store’s liquor license.

At the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting last month, the commission agreed to an outline of a settlement with FoBoGro meant to resolve neighborhood concerns about ownership, noise and minors purchasing alcohol at the store.

The settlement outline requires that FoBoGro establish a point of contact who is regularly on site and can be reached by commissioners or other community members if there are issues, like limiting noise outside the store and ensuring the area surrounding the establishment is kept clean.

ANC Commissioner Patrick Kennedy, who drafted the agreement, said community members previously struggled to get in touch with management to address community issues. He said communication issues raised concerns that owners were being “lax” in operating the store.

“It’s not so much concern about people going in there at 19 and buying beer, it’s a concern about whether there’s somebody actually paying attention and managing the business closely,” Kennedy said.

The store has also been sanctioned for failing to catch minors using fake IDs to buy alcohol. The store’s liquor license was suspended for five days in December and it forced to pay $7,750 in fines after city investigators twice found that the store was selling alcohol to people younger than 21 years old.

After the grocery’s management failed to show up for an ANC meeting focusing on the renewal of the liquor license in November, the ANC decided to protest its application.

The outline states that FoBoGro will take steps to ensure only people of legal age are buying alcohol from the store. At the ANC meeting last month Edward Grandis, a lawyer representing the store, said his clients are committed to addressing the neighborhood’s concerns.

Grandis and FoBoGro owner Sam Hoffman did not return multiple requests to comment.

The agreement requires the store to work with its landlord – GW – to make sure the alleyways around the store are kept in good condition and don’t have an “adverse effect” on the surrounding environment. Two main tenants of the agreement will be enforcing loitering restrictions around the building between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., and ensuring the store follows appropriate trash policies.

The West End Citizens Association has had conflicts with FoBoGro dating back to 2009, when the group protested FoBoGro’s hearing for a liquor license. FoBoGro won the battle and was permitted to sell alcohol and stay open from 7 a.m. to midnight seven days a week.

WECA again protested FoBoGro’s renewal of its liquor license, filed in October, arguing that the association, along with the ANC, was concerned about the lack of a clear point of communication from FoBoGro’s management.

Barbara Kahlow, WECA Secretary-Treasurer, did not answer a list of emailed questions, but sent a copy of the letter that was sent to D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

“The WECA believes that any renewal would continue to adversely affect the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhood which houses several high-rise apartment buildings,” the letter stated.

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